NEW PORT RICHEY — Much-anticipated relief from ongoing traffic congestion in Pasco County arrived Wednesday morning with the opening of the new Interstate 75 interchange at Overpass Road.
The new interchange, Exit 282, is located approximately halfway between the exits at State Road 52 and state roads 54 and 56, giving drivers new options for their travels. The $64.6 million project was built as part of a partnership between Pasco County and the Florida Department of Transportation.
The interchange includes exit and entrance ramps to both directions of I-75 and features a “flyover” ramp for westbound Overpass Road traffic entering southbound I-75.
Former Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, who frequently discussed concerns about traffic congestion, said the project was about providing a better quality of life for Pasco residents.
“When you think about how long people have to sit in traffic these days especially, this is about getting people to work, getting people home, getting to those sporting events quicker so they can spend more time with their families,” Moore said after a ribbon-cutting on the project.
At that event, Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley agreed that the new project should be helpful to those traveling busy state roads 52, 54 and 56, giving them another way to access the interstate.
“It will spread that traffic out,” Oakley said. “Our citizens need that. It is really congested out there.”
Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said the project took a decade to come to fruition and was only possible because of the good working relationship between state and local officials.
“We knew how important it would be,” she said. “We’re very excited about it.”
To accommodate the new interchange, Overpass Road was widened from two lanes to four lanes between the interstate and Old Pasco Road and six lanes between the interstate and Boyette Road. Blair Drive was realigned to connect with Old Pasco Road. McKendree Road was also rerouted to connect with Boyette Road, according to the Florida Department of Transportation description of the project.
Sidewalks have also been built along Overpass Road. A 10-foot-wide sidewalk has been constructed on the north side of Overpass Road beside the westbound traffic lanes, and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk is open on the south side beside the eastbound traffic lanes.
Officials also want drivers to be aware of the new traffic signals that are now active at the ramp intersections with Overpass Road. Workers will continue to be in the area over the next few weeks completing the project.