WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation hosted an open house on Tuesday night showing design plans for three projects in Pasco County. The projects are designed to reduce crashes and congestion.
The Florida Department of Transportation illustrates with an animation how officials will convert the SR 56 and I-75 Interchange in Wesley Chapel to a diverging diamond.
"Simply put...at each end of SR 56, we're going to have traffic cross over to the left side of the road," John McShaffrey, FDOT spokesperson said.
Construction on the diverging diamond started in February. The main change will be to diverge SR 56 traffic to the left side of the road through the interchange and then cross vehicles back over to the right side of the road on the opposite side of the interchange. The changes will help to alleviate traffic congestion at this interchange.
"All the improvements are aimed to move the traffic through quicker, but also we are going to eliminate the many conflict points where you do have the bad crashes," said McShaffrey.
The diverging diamond will reduce vehicle delays by allowing traffic to enter the interstate without waiting at a left turn signal. The project is expected to cost $33 million and be complete by late 2021.
FDOT also discussed two other projects designed to reduce congestion in Pasco County.
FDOT began construction on the $59.2 million SR 56 extension from Meadow Pointe Blvd. to US 301 in southeastern Pasco County in February 2017. The new six-mile long roadway project will also include a ten-foot wide multi-use trail on the south side of the road. The project is expected to be complete in late 2019.
"Pasco County is growing. I think, they're kind of a little behind the times, but they recognize they have issues and they're working on them and that's what counts," said resident Janet Pond.
Crews are also working on a SR 54 widening project from east of Curley Road to east of Morris Bridge Road. The $42.5 million project is expected to finish in the summer of 2021.
The project will widen the existing two-lane road to a four-lane road with medians. A sidewalk will be built on the north side of the road.
"New restaurants, there's new shopping with the outlet mall, new hotels so the traffic is just increasing and combine that with all the people who are commuting," said McShaffrey.