Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Transportation

Pasco planners shift priority to State Road 52

DADE CITY — In the competition for state road money, State Road 52 got a higher spot on Pasco County's priority list of 26 highway projects on Thursday after transportation officials decided to bump it ahead of the high-profile State Road 56 corridor.

"It's going to get built no matter what," Commissioner Ted Schrader said at a meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. The group includes the five county commissioners and representatives of the county's major cities. State roads 54 and 56 recently made headlines as a private investor submitted an unsolicited bid to build an elevated toll road there to alleviate congestion.

Planners said SR 54 and SR 56, which overlap in Wesley Chapel and are in primary commercial and residential areas, are "developer-driven," meaning developers would be chipping in a good chunk of the cost.

In arguing for the reshuffle, Schrader said that projects that have landed lower on the list have not received state money in the past.

"We sit and wait and wait and wait," he said of SR 52, which crosses in his east Pasco commission district.

Planners kept the top 10 projects intact. No. 1 remained adding continuous right-turn lanes to U.S. 19 from Pinellas to Hernando, followed by widening SR 54 from four to six lanes from the Suncoast Parkway to U.S. 41. No. 3 is building an interchange on the Suncoast Parkway at Ridge Road, which won't happen until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues a wetlands permit. That application has been pending more than a decade.

No. 4 is widening Interstate 75 from four to six lanes from state toads 56 to 54, a project expected to be done by the end of October. Further widening of the interstate from SR 54 to SR 52 is next, followed by a new interchange at I-75 and Overpass Road and further widening of I-75 to the Hernando County line.

Nos. 9 and 10 began the list of improvements to SR 52. No 11, which involved adding four new lanes to SR 56, got bumped down to No. 17, while widening U.S. 41 took the No. 11 spot.

SR 52 improvements then took over No. 12 through No. 16 spots.

Schrader said he wanted those improvements listed consecutively "to give it continuity."

The list will now go to the Florida Department of Transportation, which will evaluate it and let MPO members know in December what projects will get state money.

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