Central Pasco's Traffic Challenges at State Road 54 and U.S. 41
Central Pasco has long been plagued by traffic congestion, particularly at the intersection of State Road 54 and U.S. 41. This vital junction, where a major east-west route meets a key north-south thoroughfare, often leaves drivers waiting through several light cycles.
Addressing this ongoing problem was a key topic at the October 12 meeting of the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Commissioner Kathryn Starkey inquired about progress on solutions for this traffic bottleneck.
FDOT's Ongoing Evaluation and Challenges
Brian Hunter, a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) transportation planning manager, explained that the solution is still under evaluation. He cited environmental concerns and the need to account for Pasco's recent rapid growth. Hunter emphasized the importance of ensuring that any proposed solution remains effective in the face of the county's expanding population.
Commissioner Starkey expressed urgency for moving from evaluation to action, highlighting the critical nature of the situation.
Recent Incidents Highlighting Infrastructure Needs
A recent cooking oil spill on State Road 54, which led to the road’s closure between Gunn Highway and the Suncoast Parkway, further emphasized the area's infrastructure challenges. This incident resulted in traffic accidents and underscored the need for alternative east-west routes.
Starkey pointed out that improvements to Tower Road, soon to be renamed Rangeland, are now more crucial than ever. She also mentioned FDOT's study on creating an on-ramp onto the Suncoast Parkway from Tower Road, which would offer another option for east-west travel.
Other Key Transportation Issues
The MPO meeting also addressed concerns about traffic flow near the U.S. 98/U.S. 301 improvement project. Dade City Commissioner Scott Black and Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley stressed the importance of maintaining two-way traffic at a critical intersection on River Road.
FDOT's Hunter discussed potential solutions, including a plan that would facilitate U-turns for trucks to maintain smooth traffic flow.
Looking Ahead: The 2050 Transportation Plan
The meeting also included an update on the 2050 transportation plan. Scott Ferry, a Pasco MPO planner, reported that Kimley-Horn, a consulting firm, is developing socioeconomic forecasts and a public involvement plan for the 2050 transportation plan. This data will help predict future transportation needs in the county.
The plan is on an accelerated eight-month schedule, aiming for adoption by December 11, 2024.
Pasco MPO's Role
The Pasco MPO, comprising elected leaders from Pasco County and its cities, is the primary transportation planning agency for the county. It plays a pivotal role in addressing transportation challenges and planning for the county's future needs.