Advertisement
  1. Transportation

Pasco completes deal to accelerate wider SR 56 extension

PT_352286_OROU_Traffic  1 of 1  (03/30/2012) ( Wesley Chapel, FL) For much of Friday morning traffic on northbound I-75 was slow often coming to a standsill.  Next Sunday April 8th is Easter Sunday. Many snowbirds use the weekend before Easter as a travel weekend to migrate north. Add departing spring breakers and it created a slow crawl from south of I-4 in Hillsborough County to State Road 54 in Pasco County. Photo was taken from the State Road 56 bridge in Wesley Chapel looking toward the south. SKIP O'ROURKE  | Times
PT_352286_OROU_Traffic 1 of 1 (03/30/2012) ( Wesley Chapel, FL) For much of Friday morning traffic on northbound I-75 was slow often coming to a standsill. Next Sunday April 8th is Easter Sunday. Many snowbirds use the weekend before Easter as a travel weekend to migrate north. Add departing spring breakers and it created a slow crawl from south of I-4 in Hillsborough County to State Road 54 in Pasco County. Photo was taken from the State Road 56 bridge in Wesley Chapel looking toward the south. SKIP O'ROURKE | Times
Published Jan. 14, 2016

DADE CITY — Pasco County commissioners cemented a deal this week to build a wider State Road 56 from Wesley Chapel to Zephyrhills, a 6-mile stretch of asphalt that advocates tout as a faster route to economic development in southeast Pasco.

In a pair of unanimous votes, commissioners Tuesday approved seven agreements to borrow $22.7 million from the state of Florida, obtain right-of-way from private developers, establish cost-overrun safeguards with the contractor and set repayment plans to turn a planned two-lane road into a four-lane highway. When completed in 2019, the connection will provide the first multi-lane east-west highway across the county, linking U.S. 19 and U.S. 301, and provide better access from the Zephyrhills airport and the city-owned industrial park to Interstate 75.

"It's a perfect example of private-public partnership done right," said Commissioner Mike Moore. "I think we all understand the opportunities are great. It gives the Zephyrhills area the opportunity they've been waiting for."

The agreements came just a month after Richard Gehring, Pasco's strategic policy administrator, and Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein went public with the county's difficult negotiations with the Florida Department of Transportation that raised questions about whether a deal could be completed.

On Tuesday, however, commissioners and County Administrator Michele Baker heaped accolades on Gehring and Goldstein, who in turn shared the praise with the DOT, contractor Cone & Graham Inc. of Tampa and the private landowners for reaching the accords.

Under the deal, first proposed last spring, Pasco County will borrow money from a state revolving loan fund known as the State Infrastructure Bank to build the two additional lanes of the SR 56 extension. The DOT previously awarded a $35 million design-and-build contract to Cone & Graham for two lanes.

The DOT proposed the loan after Zephyrhills officials lobbied state legislators to build all four lanes as a single project. In exchange, the city agreed to absorb 10 percent of the risk if the loan isn't repaid in a timely fashion by the private developments planned along the route.

Four developments — Wesley Chapel Lakes, Wyndfields, River Landing and Two Rivers — could add more than 11,000 homes along the corridor between Meadow Pointe Boulevard, where SR 56 currently ends, and Zephyrhills. Wesley Chapel Lakes previously agreed to a $2.7 million contribution, but the others will pay a combined $25 million over 20 years via surcharges on top of the county's existing transportation fees on new construction. Pasco County will pay a little less than $1.4 million.

As a byproduct of the deal, Pasco County likely will move a planned district park to the east, where it will sit inside the Wyndfields development, but abutt a planned high school within the River Landing property.

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

All told, the 6.13-mile, four-lane highway will cost $57.8 million to build, not including $8 million in interest payments. Building the second pair of lanes now likely means a $10 million to $15 million savings in permitting, equipment mobilization and potentially higher construction costs in the future, Gehring said.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge