By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK
Published February 15, 2004
Traffic snarls are on tap during the coming year as many of Hernando County's major roadways are scheduled to undergo construction.
Projects are slated on U.S. 41, Mariner Boulevard, Spring Hill Drive, Barclay Avenue, Northcliffe Boulevard and Spring Lake Highway, to name a few. And much of the work is complex enough that it will last into 2005.
"This is a big year," said Dennis Dix, the county's chief transportation planner.
The most expensive and expansive project on the list belongs to the Florida Department of Transportation, which will spend about $12-million to widen U.S. 41 from two to four lanes between Spangler Avenue, just south of Powell Road, and Hviezdoslav Street in Masaryktown. The 2.79-mile project is split into two contracts, with Southwest Florida Water Management District headquarters as the midpoint for the work.
"Both of these projects will be let out to bid in May," department spokeswoman Kris Carson said. "You're looking at the fall when people can expect to see construction."
If there are no rain delays, Carson said, each portion of the widening should take 650 days.
In the early spring, work should begin on what Spring Hill residents refer to as the "missing link" - the final stretch of Mariner Boulevard that remains two lanes, said county public works director Charles Mixson.
Shortly afterward, construction should begin to widen and add turn lanes at the intersection of Mariner and Spring Hill Drive. The $1.6-million project has been designed, but has been delayed because of utility planning, Mixson said.
The county also plans to begin widening Northcliffe Boulevard as it heads west from Deltona Boulevard. The County Commission is scheduled to select a design firm soon, and construction could begin by December.
"When that is completed, in Spring Hill only Deltona will not be multilane" among the major thoroughfares, Dix said.
The county intends to widen Deltona, adding a center turn lane, in 2005, he said.
Other projects are slated for roads outside Spring Hill.
The county is spending about $1.15-million to acquire right of way along Barclay Avenue for the widening of that road between State Road 50 and Spring Hill Drive. Design for the portion from Powell to Spring Hill Drive is under way, Mixson said, and "hopefully that will be under construction this summer."
Work on the other section is scheduled to start in 2006.
To the north of State Road 50, the county is acquiring land to widen Sunshine Grove Road north to Ken Austin Parkway. The first phase of the construction could begin in late 2004, although early 2005 is more likely, Mixson said. The entire project is scheduled to be complete in 2007.
County planners also are looking to the future of northwest Hernando during 2004. They are working with the state DOT to determine what roads would be best to make into larger collectors. Star and Exile roads are among those under consideration, Dix said.
There will be two intersection projects in Brooksville during the year. At Ponce de Leon and Jefferson, the DOT will widen the turning radius, move light poles and install a permanent concrete barrier to prevent improper turns.
Dix said the original intent was to add westbound left-turn lanes at the intersection, but to do so would have been "cost prohibitive."
The second project is reconfiguring and rebuilding Howell Avenue at U.S. 41 on the north side of the city.
North of Brooksville, the county plans to repave Lake Lindsey Road and add shoulders for safety.
It also will realign Jasmine Road to connect to McIntyre Road. The county intends to get its permits for that project in the spring, and to begin construction soon afterward, Mixson said.
And in southeastern Hernando, Mixson said, plans call for the continued widening of Spring Lake Highway south of Church Road, improving it to collector status.
Longer term, design work will continue during 2004 for the eventual widening of County Line Road and State Road 50.
Dix said the county will make every effort to ensure that the construction projects will have as little impact on traffic as possible.