Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Zephyrhills' Gall Boulevard will remain two-way during road work

ZEPHYRHILLS — The Florida Department of Transportation announced Thursday it would defer to community leaders and keep Gall Boulevard open to two-way traffic, rather than make the stretch through the city's business district one-way when the highway is widened.

The $54 million, 2 ½ mile street-widening project, intended to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, was stalled several years ago after city leaders asked transportation officials to consider an alternative to the one-way plan. If Gall Boulevard became one-way, it wouldn't be much more than a bypass, with commuters forgoing area businesses.

City officials came up with an idea to change the route of U.S. 301, sweeping it northbound onto Seventh Street so it runs up to the current U.S. 301 and Fort King Road intersection. Under the city's preferred plan, Gall Boulevard remains a two-way, two-lane road rather than the transportation department's proposed one-way, three-lane thoroughfare. Sixth Street will be widened to a three-lane road for southbound traffic.

City and business leaders have been pushing the city's plan, fearing that if they didn't succeed plans to create a vibrant business district would fizzle and established businesses would disappear.

But on Thursday, the worry turned into cheers.

"It finally came to a head," said Mayor Cliff McDuffie, who for years has been lobbying for the city's plan to anybody at the local and state level who would listen. "Oh wow, what a day. (I'm) very elated."

"I told Cliff it's deserving of a victory lap," said Vonnie Mikkelsen, Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce executive director. "We're thrilled."

Todd Vande Berg, the city's director of planning and development, said he was excited to get the "positive" news from the transportation department Thursday morning.

He said it was the community as a whole — from business leaders, to local politicians, to the chamber, to Main Street Zephyrhills and residents — rallying around the city's plan that made the difference.

"It's been a long process, but it was something we felt strongly about and now we can move forward," he said.

Mikkelsen said she, too, was impressed by the community's support.

"When people say 'it doesn't matter, they're going to do what they're going to do,' now I think the community of Zephyrhills proved differently," she said.

Over the years, the transportation department has held a series of workshops and public hearings, most recently in February, so the public could listen, learn and express opinions about the U.S. 301 project. Kris Carson, department spokeswoman, said it was those loud voices that turned things around.

"Based on the comments we received during the entire public hearing process, we did select the Sixth and Seventh Street alternative as the recommended alterative," she said.

It will still be years before the project is completed. The next step is for the Department of Transportation to move forward with the project development and environmental study, finalize it and send it to Federal Highway Administration for approval, likely in June. Design and acquisition of right-of-way will then begin.

As for the city, redeveloping the heart of Zephyrhills can now begin.

"Now we can move full force in our plans," Vande Berg said.

Zephyrhills' Gall Boulevard will remain two-way during road work 03/29/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Restaurant review: Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights should focus on mom-and-pop pharmacy vibe

    Food & Dining

    By Laura Reiley

    Times Food Critic

    TAMPA

    Sometimes, the more time you have with a project, the more complicated it gets. I started hearing about Mortar & Pestle in Seminole Heights about 18 months ago. It was the vision of Ujwal Patel, a pharmacist;

    Mortar & Pestle opened in Seminole Heights in Tampa in August. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington on growing up in a 'cult' and how to tell a good story

    Events

    Glynn Washington spent much of his last visit to Tampa preparing his soul for the impending apocalypse. He was assured it was coming any day.

    Glynn Washington, the creator and host of NPR's "Snap Judgment," will bring his live show to the Tampa Theatre on Sept. 29. 
Photo courtesy Snap Judgment
  3. Anthony Weiner sentenced to 21 months in sexting case

    National

    NEW YORK — Former Rep. Anthony Weiner was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl in a case that rocked Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House in the closing days of the race and may have cost her the presidency.

    Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing in a sexting scandal, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Southestern Noval University}
  5. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February

    Blogs

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    Vinny Lecavalier takes the ice before a 2010 game against the Florida Panthers.