Sierra Club latest to oppose toll road idea in south Pasco

Published March 14 2014

Add another name to the list of opponents to the proposed toll road in south Pasco County: the Sierra Club Tampa Bay Group.

The environmental organization's Tampa chapter came out against the planned elevated highway that would span most of south Pasco, saying it would bring more sprawl and traffic. It urged policies promoting mass transit and blamed current traffic headaches on inadequate planning.

Kent Bailey, the chapter's growth management chair, leveled the criticism following a town hall meeting Monday in which speakers lined up at a podium at Sunlake High School in Land O' Lakes to blast the proposal.

"The proposed elevated toll road will encourage more sprawl, creating even more traffic," he said in press release. "Paving is no substitute for planning."

The road would run along right-of-way for state roads 54/56. The state's transportation department is reviewing the plan and said it will hold public meetings in June and July before deciding whether to approve the proposal.

Called FL Express 54, the project would be the first in Florida built and operated by a private company.

After garnering praise initially, the project came under fire in recent weeks by south Pasco residents worried about noise, pollution and impacts to businesses and real estate values. A citizen's group, Pasco Fiasco, has formed, developing a website and Facebook page to urge opposition. An online petition by the group hit more than 1,100 signatures this week.