Pasco County District 2 Commissioner Mike Moore says one of the most common complaints he receives from his constituents is about the traffic, especially here in Wesley Chapel. Before too long, however, he says many of those complaints will go away.
“There’s a lot going on, and a lot of (transportation) projects are kind of coming together at once and are going to make an enormous and immediate impact,” Moore says.
Three major local road projects, totalling nearly $150 million combined, are under way right now. The projects — the diverging diamond interchange (DDI) at S.R. 56 and I-75, the widening of S.R. 54 to past Morris Bridge Rd., and a new I-75 interchange at Overpass Rd. — will provide a large measure of relief to our area.
The $33-million DDI (which we’ve updated for you quite a bit recently) and the $42.5-million widening project — which will widen S.R. 54 from a two-lane road to a four-lane road with medians, and include a sidewalk on the north side and a 10-foot wide multi-use trail on the south side — are both well under way.
Meanwhile, the $70-million Overpass Rd. interchange will be located approximately halfway between the S.R. 54 and S.R. 52 exits (which are six miles apart), and work began on the project in October, with local road and drainage work in the southwest corner of the planned interchange.
Instead of a traditional interchange, or even another DDI (which was considered), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Pasco County have settled on a flyover ramp onto southbound I-75 from westbound Overpass Rd., similar to the one in New Tampa at the Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. Exit 270 off I-75. The Overpass Rd. interchange will be Pasco County’s first flyover.
The existing Overpass Rd. bridge over I-75 is being torn down and will be replaced by two bridges, one each for eastbound and westbound traffic on Overpass Rd.
“You could say incorporating that particular design is the wave of the future,” Moore says. “We’re not going have to have to go back and fix something like what’s going on with S.R. 56 and I-75. With that interchange, it’s just going to be general maintenance.”
FDOT’s John McShaffrey says the flyover configuration was selected “primarily because this alternative provides the most capacity to handle anticipated future traffic demands for the westbound Overpass Rd. to southbound I-75 traffic movement.”
The project also will include the widening of Overpass Rd. from two lanes to four lanes between the interstate and Old Pasco Rd., and from two lanes to six lanes between the interstate and Boyette Rd.
The interchange is being constructed by the Middlesex Corporation, and is expected to have a major effect on the adjacent interchanges. It was the best choice to accommodate the traffic from future development coming to the east side of the county, primarily from the Epperson Ranch and Pasadena Hills communities.
Other benefits of the I-75/Overpass Rd.) interchange, according to FDOT:
* It will substantially reduce traffic at the adjacent interchanges (SR 54 & SR 52), thus improving the traffic flow at both of these interchanges (reducing delays and improving safety).
* It will provide a detour route for traffic on I-75, quicker access for first responders servicing this area of I-75, and another access point to I-75 for evacuees during emergency evacuations.
* It is an integral part of the transportation network being developed in this growing area of the county, and is identified as a needed improvement to accommodate the Villages of Pasadena Hills development and the Connected Cities development.
* Will improve access to I-75 for businesses that will be located at the approved Overpass Business Center, and will provide a direct route for businesses that are/will be located along the entire length of Overpass Rd., as it develops eastbound towards U.S. 301.
* FDOT and the county both acknowledge that the existing system, even with reasonable improvements, is incapable of satisfactorily accommodating future traffic demands. The location of this new Exit 282 Overpass Rd. interchange is ideal in terms of placement (approximately 3 miles from both Exit 285, or SR 52, and Exit 279, or SR 54).
The estimated completion time of the Overpass Rd./I-75 interchange is summer 2023. The DDI and widening of S.R. 54 could be completed by the end of this year.
“I’m excited as a resident and as someone who has a wife and daughter that drive,” Moore says. “We see the effects the traffic has. But, also as an economic impact, too. When companies are looking to grow or relocate, they are looking for areas that have a great transportation infrastructure.”