Pasco County, Florida, residents are buzzing about a proposed toll road that, if given a thumbs-up by state, local and federal government agencies, would bisect the county with an east-west 33-mile strip of raised roadway.
The unsolicited proposal, which is being pushed by a private development group, has already cleared the initial stages of the process with the Florida Department of Transportation. The group, Florida 54 Express, wants to lease land along the corridor for State Roads 54 and 56 “for the purposes of designing, constructing, operating and maintaining an elevated and at grade level toll facility”.
County Commissioners have been getting an earful from residents who feel that the project is not only unnecessary, but will detract from their property values and cause years of road congestion and delays.
The elevated toll road would seek to intersect Interstate 75, which would first have to obtain federal approval.
The elevated toll road came as a surprise to many residents, in Land O’Lakes, Lutz and Wesley Chapel, who don’t perceive a need for it. A petition to stop the project already has over 1,300 signatures. The Sierra Club chimed in with opposition to the project, according to the Tampa Bay Times, saying that the road “will encourage more sprawl, creating even more traffic.”
The developers argue in their proposal that the toll facility “addresses current and future needs to enhance the the transportation system,” and will increase real estate revenue and create jobs.
Greg Hoop, owner of Big Apple Bagels on SR 54, posted on the Pasco Fiasco Facebook page, “I moved here for the small town feel and the wonderful people. This is a place to raise your children and enjoy the beautiful town we call home. If this were to pass I would sell my home and move my business. This monstrosity would be a death blow to our community. We need to hold our local elected politicians feet to the fire on this issue”
The Sierra Club chimed in with opposition to the project, according to the Tampa Bay Times, saying that the road “will encourage more sprawl, creating even more traffic.”
Pasco County’s webpage directs questions about the project to a District 7 representative from FDOT and encourages residents to attend meetings (date to be determined but tentatively set for June or July).