Roads Busier, But Help Is Coming
Name a road in Wesley Chapel, and you can probably also name a problem with it.
S.R. 54 isn’t wide enough.
S.R. 56 has I-75, making for one of the area’s worst junctions.
And Bruce B. Downs Blvd….well, don’t get us started on BBD.
And those are just the big roads. All across Wesley Chapel, the quick speed of development left a lot area residents complaining about crowding roads that are already, well, crowded.
The good news in 2017, however, was that help seemed to be on the way, as most of the hotspots — and by hot we mean causing tempers to flare — are being addressed by the county, although all of these projects will require some patience.
In 2017, wheels started turning for S.R. 56, which is practically getting a complete makeover.
On the west end, it was announced that the brutal S.R. 56 and I-75 intersection, which turns simple chores — like going to the Tampa Premium Outlets or even just coming home from work and trying to get through the northbound off ramp — into seemingly endless expeditions, should begin work this year on a $24.1-million Diverging Diamond Interchange project that will, presumably, fix some of the junction’s major problems.
The news of a 2018 groundbreaking was welcomed, considering how much better it was than the original 2024 and 2020 start dates.
At the east end of S.R. 56, work kicked off on extending the road all the way to from Meadow Pointe Blvd. to U.S. Hwy. 301/S.R. 41 and into Zephyrhills, expected to be a boon for area businesses. Originally planned to be two lanes, the $65-million project will now be four lanes.
On S.R. 54, Wesley Chapel Blvd. was widened to the south and, to the east, work started in November on widening S.R. 54 from Curley Rd. to U.S. 301.
As for BBD, we don’t want to give you any spoilers, but for our “Best Of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel” issue coming out next month, we asked for your opinion on the worst intersection in our distribution areas (New Tampa and Wesley Chapel), and 11 BBD intersections from Tampa Palms all the way through Wesley Chapel were cited.
And a number of smaller roads —Old Pasco Rd., Meadow Pointe Blvd., Curley Rd. — also can be thorns in the side of drivers, but the one that drew the most attention was the potential connection of Pasco County’s Mansfield Blvd. to Hillsborough County’s Kinnan St.
There were three major developments in 2017: Pasco County commissioned a study of the connection (along with two other possible connections to New Tampa) in April, a public meeting was held in May at Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC)’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch to solicit responses, and the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners pledged $250,000 in September to help make the connection happen.
Not without a big fight.