Improvements still years away for Pasco evacuation route

SR 52's two-lane strech worries residents
Posted at 3:43 PM, Jul 29, 2016
Driving on State Road 52 in Pasco County, where it goes down two lanes, can be tough enough on an average day.
But those who would need this road as an evacuation route if a hurricane ever hit, can’t imagine how bad it would get.
“The other day I was going about 5 miles an hour because there was a wreck right up the road here. It took about 45 minutes to go about 5 miles,” said Brian Lenahan.
Lenahan lives and works near State Road 52.
From near the Veterans Expressway to I-75 it’s still just a two lane road.
“Even four would be better in case of an emergency how do we leave the area?” said Lenahan.
That’s the question many continue to ask, wondering how the road will handle being used as a hurricane evacuation route.
The Florida Department of Transportation said there are plans to widen 52.
Much of that project isn’t even funded yet, the rest is at least two years away.
“Even in a Category One evacuation. We are going to put a 100,000-plus cars in the road,” said Pasco Emergency Services Director Kevin Guthrie.
He said Pasco County’s continued growth means the infrastructure has to keep up.
But he said it could be years until needed road projects along evacuation routes are finished.
“Our goal is to get people to stay in Florida and get people to the center of the state. Get away from the water. Get into a structure that protect you from the wind.”’
There are other ways to escape Pasco’s coastal areas, but for many 52 is the only option.
And if a hurricane is coming, it could get ugly.
“My grandfather always told me you can’t pour molasses down a straw on a cold winter day. That’s very much what it’s going to look like,” said Guthrie.
Officials said don’t wait until a storm is about to hit to figure out how you would evacuate.
Click here  for a map showing Pasco’s evacuation routes.