Last week, in response to the outbreak of organized opposition to a consortium’s offer to build a privately financed elevated toll road along the State Road 54-56 corridor across southern Pasco, Florida Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad invited County Administrator Michele Baker and County Commission Chairman Jack Mariano to Tallahassee. The county officials met with representatives of OHL Construction, the Madrid-based construction and civil engineering company that is leading the group behind the proposed FL54 Express. Mariano, who publicly questioned the toll road, said he was glad he attended. One take-away from the meeting is that OHL will come to Pasco as part of a public education program. Prasad said he is aware of the concerns the toll road proposal has generated in Pasco and is pledging a “very open process” of addressing those concerns. There will be a series of public outreach sessions regarding FL54 Express. One will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. March 25 at the West Pasco Government Center. The project will be discussed starting at 10 a.m. during an April 25 Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization workshop at the government center. Other outreach sessions will be held in the Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills areas. The group spearheading opposition to FL54 Express, Pasco Fiasco, is right that the project will have an adverse impact on residents and businesses along the planned toll road route. Major infrastructure projects always do. But so would alternatives to the toll road such as a light-rail system or doing nothing.
Pasco residents should hear the cases for and against FL54 Express before making up their minds.