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Help on the way for clogged roads

Jams along Little Road and State Road 54 should be eased as projects are undertaken.

By JAMES THORNE
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003


To put it politely, Pasco County's road network is a work in progress. To put it bluntly, it's a mess, particularly west of U.S. 41.

The past year marked the appearance of ever-swelling traffic jams. Two of the worst spots are Little Road just north of State Road 54 and a stretch of SR 54 from the Suncoast Parkway to Gunn Highway.

The good news is that relief is coming to both locations: Pasco County is widening the last two-lane stretch of Little as it crosses the Anclote River, a job that's supposed to end in this year.

And the state Department of Transportation is doing its share by four-laning 3 miles of SR 54 from Gunn Highway to the parkway.

That $10-million project, which began in October with crews ripping out trees and pastures, is scheduled to be finished in about a year.

Last month marked the start of a $10.8-million job on the next piece of SR 54, 4.4 miles from the parkway to U.S. 41.

Work will commence on the final stretch, from Gunn to Little, in about year. Probably not soon enough for commuters who pile up there at morning and evening rush hours, not to mention workers trying to reach jobs in Odessa's industrial parks.

One bit of help is on the way: Trinity Boulevard will act as a shortcut to thousands of Trinity residents, merging their cars directly onto SR 54 west of Gunn Highway.

Land O'Lakes has been fortunate in staying ahead of the traffic crush. Three giant asphalt undertakings were completed in 2002. State Road 56, which links Land O'Lakes, Interstate 75 and Wesley Chapel, opened in March.

Later came the successful four-laning of SR 54 from Collier Parkway to Cypress Creek and the six-laning of U.S. 41 from Bell Lake Road to Tower Road.

Less successful were plans to extend SR 56 east of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. A dispute among landowners and developers has left the county uncertain about its proposed right of way and construction schedule.

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