David Nelson Construction Co. To Widen WC Blvd. To Six Lanes Between S.R. 54/56 & Old Pasco Rd. 

Research by Joel Provenzano 

The map (above) shows the full length of the $69.4-million contract to widen Wesley Chapel Blvd. from (mostly) two to six lanes between Old Pasco Rd. & where S.R. 54 & S.R. 56 meet. All of the existing and planned traffic signals are shown, with the planned “additional” signals outlined in yellow. Please note that the signal that is “planned” at the intersection of Stagecoach Village Dr. and WC Blvd. is already there, but that is considered to be a “temporary” signal that will be replaced. (Map: Provided by Pasco County, modified by Charmaine George & GN) 

Even though nearly the entire length of Wesley Chapel (WC) Blvd. actually divides Land O’Lakes (on the west side of the street) from Lutz (on the east side) and only actually enters Wesley Chapel’s 33543 zip code at Lexington Oaks, it is big news that Pasco County has finally awarded (on Apr. 23) the $69.4-million construction contract to David Nelson Construction Co. to widen WC Blvd. between S.R. 56 and Old Pasco Rd. from two (for most of this stretch of it) to six lanes. 

Although we are not the first to report this information, we are the only local news medium trying to find out whether or not vehicles will still be able to make left turns onto (or off of) WC Blvd. from the many entrances to communities along the full length of the project. There is a median for the widening project’s entire length, but how many curb cuts will there be along the 4.1-mile length of the project? Are there going to be U-turn lanes at any of the community entrances? With only two traffic signals being included (one of which, the “temporary” signal at the entrance to the Stagecoach community, at Stagecoach Village Dr., already exists), will people living in any of the nine residential communities along the project’s length still be able to make left turns across WC Blvd. to enter or exit their communities? Thanks to our Joel Provenzano, we believe we have those answers. 

As someone who has lived at the south end of this project the past five years, I (and Jannah) have witnessed two serious accidents caused by people trying to make left turns in or out of these communities who were hit by drivers going north or south on WC Blvd. We also narrowly avoided a left-turning driver whose vehicle did a full 360º spin in front of us following a collision. 

The intersection of Compark Dr., at the more northern of the two entrances to the Compark 75 office and warehouse park, will receive a new traffic signal under the WC Blvd. widening agreement. 

Here’s what we know about the “new” traffic signals included in the WC Blvd. widening contract: 

1) The only completely new signal included in the contract will be placed at the more northern of the two entrances to the Compark 75 warehouse park at WC Blvd. & Compark Dr. 

2) The existing traffic signal at Stagecoach Village Blvd. is a “temporary” signal that will be replaced with a permanent signal under the contract 

The issue to me, as someone who has lived off of WC Blvd. the last five years, is that there are so many other equally dangerous intersections along WC Blvd. (see list below) that aren’t getting signals. 

But, thanks to our research specialist Joel Provenzano, who was an engineer with the Florida department of Transportation (FDOT) for years and is much more “fluent” in reading such documents than I am, we believe we have the answers to my question about the planned median in the center of WC Blvd. that will prevent drivers most of the entrances to these subdivision/apartment communities from going across WC Blvd. to make left turns either into or out of (or both) of their respective communities. 

Here is that list of intersections that we believe are being addressed under the widening agreement: 

— Pondside Dr. at Old C.R. 54 – Median remains fully open. 

— Entrance to Harley- Davidson – Directional median opening (left turns in only) remains the same. 

— WC Blvd. at Grand Cypress Dr. (entrance to the Maeva Apartments/Cypress Bend Prof. Park – Directional median opening with left turns in only. 

— WC Blvd. at Hyde Park Blvd. (entrance to The Enclave subdivision) – The median will remain fully open in both directions at this location. 

— WC Blvd. at Wilshire Dr. (entrance to The Woodlands at Stagecoach subdivision) – No left turns out. 

— WC Blvd. at Bramblewood Blvd (entrance to the Cypress Estates) subdivision – Directional median opening with a U-turn lane. 

— WC Blvd. at Oaks Blvd. (entrance to The Oaks subdivision) – Full median opening. Note – Oaks Dr. and Bramblewood are connected at Tradewinds Dr., off WC Blvd. 

— WC Blvd. at Winding River Way (entrance to the Edgewater at Grand Oaks townhome community) – Full median opening. 

— WC Blvd. at Cloud Hopper Way (entrance to the Volanti townhomes) & Cobalt Dr. (entrance to the new Cobalt apartments) – No median openings at all at either location. Note – There will be an opening about 600 ft. south of Volanti for U-turns. 

— WC Blvd. at Pet Ln. (alternate entrance to Grand Oaks Plaza and Compark 75) – Directional median opening with left turn in only. 

— WC Blvd. at Magnolia Blvd. (at Marathon gas station & just north of Midgard Self-Storage & Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply) – Full median opening remains. 

— WC Blvd. at Players Dr. – Opening will be restricted to right-out turns only. 

— WC Blvd. at Tampa Downs Blvd. (by North Tampa Aero Park) – Left-in directional median opening only. 

The Presentation To The BOC 

Prior to the vote awarding the contract at the Apr. 23 meeting of Pasco’s Board of County Commissioners (BOC), Panos Kontses, the county’s assistant director of transportation engineering, made a presentation to the commissioners regarding the awarding of the contract to widen WC Blvd. 

The existing traffic signal at the intersection of Stagecoach Village Dr. and WC Blvd. is considered to be a “temporary” signal that will be replaced with a “permanent” one. 

“Typically, construction contracts are presented through the consent agenda,” Kontses said. “However, the size of the contract, the significance of the project for the county and also because of the history of the project, our county administrator suggested that we give you a brief presentation.” 

Kontses also noted that WC Blvd. provides access to many communities, as well as commercial businesses, “and also provides an alternate relief route to I-75.” 

First, Kontses gave the commissioners an overview of the existing status of WC Blvd. The north end of the project, between Progress Pkwy. and Old Pasco Rd., is 4 lanes, with a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit. It has 5-6-ft.-wide sidewalks and a 4-ft.-wide bicycle lane. 

The middle portion, between Old. C.R. 54 and Progress Pkwy. has a 55-mph speed limit and is almost completely two lanes with no sidewalks or pathways and just 4-5-ft. shoulders. The southern portion, from Old C.R. 54/Pondside Dr. to S.R. 54/56 is six-laned, with a 45-mph speed limit, and with a 5-ft.-sidewalk, an 8-ft.-wide pathway and 5-ft.-wide bicycle lane. 

Kontses also noted that the project has, “a long history…longer than we wanted…and also went through several project managers. I just happen to be the last one. And, we are very excited to bring this project to its last stage — its construction.” 

He then noted that the original route study was conducted in 2003, when WC Blvd. was intended to be a 4-lane rural road. But, even though the design phase for that original plan started in 2008, nothing else happened after the Tampa Bay Regional Planning model became available between 2008- 14, which showed that the original 4-lane plan would not be able to accommodate the expected traffic. 

“That area is going through explosive growth,” Kontses told the commissioners, “and the expected traffic volumes were almost double, so the recommendation was to make the road a 6-lane section, but keep it within a 150-ft. right-of-way. “That meant we had to condense the section to an urban road with bike lanes, 5-6-ft. sidewalks and an 8-ft. pathway.” 

The route study resumed in 2015- 16, with new design starting in 2016. 

“But, in 2017,” Kontses noted, “we got the updated flood plains from Swiftmud and we didn’t want any adjacent properties to end up being flooded, so our design team did a drainage analysis and found that no properties were likely to be flooded, so we were happy about that.” 

The WC Blvd. Construction Project Schedule & Cost shows that the $69.4-million project is expected to be completed by May 2027. (Source: Pasco County)

Permitting then began in 2017 and right-of-way acquisition between 2019-23. District 3 Commissioner Kathryn Starkey noted that it took “a long time — five years” for the county to purchase all of the needed right-of way, but Kontses noted, “We had to purchase 43 parcels from 25 different property owners, so that was an extensive effort for our resources.” 

He added that the plan also had to go through several revisions because of new developments that began building and additional reviews by the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT), “because they contributed some of the funding for the project.” 

Bids were finally solicited in Dec. of 2023 and the bids opened in Jan. of this year. 

Comm. Starkey also expressed concerns about animal crossings at a wetland near Oaks Blvd., the entrance to The Oaks subdivision. 

After that, Kontses pointed out that the improvements also will include lighting along the length of the project, which will help improve safety a lot, because WC Blvd. is notoriously dark. 

District 5 Comm. Jack Mariano expressed concerns about not getting landscaping design included in the project, but Comm. Starkey noted that the landscaping for Little Rd. is only about 30% designed, “so they’re way behind on these projects.” 

If the BOC approved the agreement on Apr. 23, Kontses says the Notice to Proceed (NTP) could be given within two weeks, or before this issue reached your mailbox, and that the expected completion date for the 36-month contract is May of 2027. 

Kontses also mentioned that in addition to the main contract, there is an additional contract for independent Construction Engineering & Inspection (CEI) services for $4.5 million. 

“Four million to see if they built it right? That seems like a lot of money,” Comm. Starkey asked. “How about the contract just stipulates that they have to build it right?” 

But, Kontses said that the normal cost of CEI is, “about 10-15% of a project’s construction cost, so at $4.5 million, we’re getting a bargain.” 

Dist. 2 Comm. Seth Weightman, whose district includes the full length of the project, then moved for approval of the contract, which was seconded by Comm. Starkey and the motion passed 4-0. Dist. 4 Comm. Gary Bradford, who passed away the day before the meeting, was obviously not available for the vote. 

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