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No time saved by U.S. 41 "shortcut'

(ran PAS edition)

The days of the routine 15-minute backup on northbound Dale Mabry Highway at U.S. 41 appear to be over.

That should come as good news to residents of Village on the Pond, who in recent years have seen their neighborhood become a shortcut for motorists trying to get from Dale Mabry to State Road 54.

If you're one of those motorists who still thinks you're saving time zipping down Osprey Lane, consider what happened about two weeks ago, when Times intern Ed Quioco and I compared the routes.

Last month, the state Department of Transportation finished widening Dale Mabry to four lanes.

Motorists may complain that the road bottlenecks just before U.S. 41, leading people to jockey for position as they merge. And traffic still backs up on U.S. 41 between Dale Mabry and SR 54.

But we found that, despite bottlenecks and backups at U.S. 41, drivers can save time by avoiding Village on the Pond.

Both routes are 5 miles long. The main route is fast and straightforward. The neighborhood route is slow and winding.

Delays at U.S. 41 and SR 54 seem to be experienced mostly by people trying to head north on U.S. 41 or west on SR 54. Quioco said people drove on the right shoulder well before the traffic signal to make right turns.

He didn't, but he still managed to beat me to the Kmart parking lot at Willow Bend Towne Centre by 43 seconds.

My route took me off Dale Mabry, down County Line Road to U.S. 41. That meant a reduction in speed to about 30 mph.

Then I got stuck waiting for an opening in the north-south traffic on U.S. 41. Lake Floyd Drive is another slow road with curves that require cautious navigation.

The Times has reported the concerns of Osprey Lane residents about drivers who treat the street like a Grand Prix track.

So I made sure to drive the speed limit and watched for children. In Land O'Lakes, that's always a good idea in any neighborhood, especially during summer vacation.

_ Got an idea for a central Pasco commuting story? Call Wes Platt at 996-1534.

The quickest route

On July 16, two Times reporters took two different routes from Lutz Lake Fern Road to the Kmart parking lot at Willow Bend Towne Centre in Land O'Lakes. It was about 6:15 p.m., a sunny, clear day. We obeyed posted speed limit signs. Here's how the two routes compared.

Route 1

Sluggish But Swift (Dale Mabry Highway / U.S. 41 / State Road 54 / Collier Parkway)

Route: Ed Quioco drove north on Dale Mabry from Lutz Lake Fern Road in north Hillsborough County, north on U.S. 41, east on SR 54 and south on Collier Parkway, to the Kmart parking lot.

Length: 5 miles

Time: 8 minutes

Highlights: Traffic backed up on U.S. 41 from State Road 54 south to Barbozan Smokehouse. That meant delays for motorists going straight, but no problems for people making a right turn onto SR 54. Three traffic lights.

Route 2

The Not-So-Shortcut (Dale Mabry Highway / County Line Road / U.S. 41 / Lake Floyd Drive / Osprey Lane / State Road 54 / Collier Parkway)

Route: Wes Platt drove north on Dale Mabry from Lutz Lake Fern Road in north Hillsborough County, east on County Line Road, north on U.S. 41 in Pasco, east on Lake Floyd, north on Osprey, east on SR 54 and South on Collier Parkway, to the Kmart parking lot.

Length: 5 miles

Time: 8 minutes, 43 seconds

Highlights: Got stuck waiting for an opening in traffic at County Line and U.S. 41. Three stop signs and one traffic light.

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