Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco officials to consider state plan for elevated SR 54 toll road

DADE CITY — Pasco's top planners are about to get a look at a state study of options to manage future traffic on the State Road 54/56 corridor and turn it into the northern part of a regional transportation loop that would include an elevated toll road.

The Florida Department of Transportation recently wrapped up a study of the corridor from U.S. 19 in New Port Richey to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Wesley Chapel. The county's study, approved last year and estimated to cost $250,000, will cover the corridor from U.S. 19 to U.S. 301, including the part of SR 56 that has not yet been built, although the initial project will be built between the Suncoast Parkway and Interstate 75. It will be paid for with mobility fees, money that developers pay to fund road improvements for the traffic their projects create.

"We hope to take this and fine tune it," said Richard Gehring, the county's chief planner. "This is a picture of 2035, but we want to look at what happens in years one through four, four through 10 and 10 through 15."

State officials were supposed to share details of the study at Thursday's monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which includes members of the County Commission as well as representatives of Pasco's major cities. But the discussion was postponed until Feb. 10 when the consultant, RS&H of Jacksonville, was unable to attend the meeting.

Transportation manager James Edwards and DOT engineer Ming Gao provided a copy of the study to the Tampa Bay Times.

"This is the top part of a regional loop for the Tampa Bay region," said Gao. "It's our job to make sure we can move people and goods, now that Pasco County's focus is on growth." The corridor connects five of Pasco's major north-south thoroughfares and boasts 19 large regional developments.

The study lists 18 options, which include various forms of mass transit.

Two managed toll lanes at ground level would generate few users at a toll of 14 cents a mile and even fewer at 21 cents a mile, the study projected. Two elevated lanes would entice too few drivers as well.

However, if you build four elevated toll lanes, the scales tip, with more opting for the faster route and easing congestion on the ground-level lanes, the study suggested. Raise the toll cost from 14 to 21 cents a mile and that dips, though use is still high enough to make the project viable, officials said.

"This is the one we think has the most potential," Gehring said of the four elevated toll lanes.

The state study puts the price tag for that option, which includes express buses, between $1.7 billion and $2 billion.

Alternatives the state recommended to eliminate included all ground-level managed lanes, all options involving light rail, which produced too few riders to justify the cost, and all ground level bus rapid transit, which also would not attract enough riders.

Options deemed "feasible" included express rapid transit buses with both two and four lanes elevated, both in the median and along road shoulders. County officials will also examine charging higher tolls during peak rush hours.

Gehring said the four elevated toll lanes provided drivers with the most options.

Local drivers who want the ground level lanes have six to spread out traffic, but the express lanes will be attractive to those driving longer distances or to those who don't mind paying more to get somewhere important on time such as a business meeting or to pick up children from day care.

Said Ming, "The key is choice."

The study would develop a conceptual alignment, including how drivers would enter and exit managed lanes from general-use lanes. It would also assess potential costs to acquire right-of-way, how to accommodate express bus or other transit options and ways to pay for the project.

Pasco officials to consider state plan for elevated SR 54 toll road 01/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Why Noah Spence could be the Bucs' X-factor


    JACKSONVILLE — Noah Spence crouched in a four-point stance, bending low like a sprinter in starting blocks. At the snap, he took one step to his right, startling Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells with his explosiveness. Wells went for the move and Spence countered with an inside swim move, flying past Wells' right …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence (57) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  2. After Charlottesville, Charlie Crist sees turning point with GOP and Trump


    Congressman Charlie Crist was at his St. Petersburg condo building today when a painter suddenly said, "Can you believe what he said yesterday?"

    John McCain and Charlie Crist
  3. Lefty quarterback's task? Make sure nothing's lost in translation


    GAINESVILLE — When Florida receiver Brandon Powell first met new quarterback Malik Zaire this summer, he was struck by the Notre Dame grad transfer's enthusiasm and outgoing personality.

    Florida quarterback Malik Zaire talks with the press during the NCAA college football team's media day in Gainesville. Zaire is a lefty quarterback, just like Tim Tebow. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, File)
  4. The Lincoln Memorial is seen in the early morning light on the National Mall on June 30, 2017. The National Park Service says someone defaced the memorial with an anti-law message early in the morning on Aug. 15, 2017. [Associated Press]
  5. Bail hearing underway for woman accused in Selmon crash that killed three


    TAMPA — Amber Nicole Perera sobbed and hung her head at the defendant's table Wednesday as prosecutors displayed photos of the charred remains of a Tampa family who died in a flaming crash that Perera is accused of causing Thursday on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

    Angela Perera, charged with DUI manslaughter in a crash that killed three on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway on Aug. 10, 2017, bows her head as she appears in court on Aug. 16, 2017. Circuit Judge Margaret Taylor tells Perera to compose herself or she'll be removed from courtroom. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]