ZEPHYRHILLS — The Florida Department of Transportation has approved funding for extending State Road 56 to Zephyrhills, city council President Lance Smith announced Monday.
“We’ve all been working really hard to improve roadways around our town,” Smith said. “[Monday] morning I got a very good phone call from Ralph Lair from Speaker [Will] Weatherford’s office that DOT had agreed to fully fund the 56 extension all the way to 301. That is huge.”
Smith said right-of-way acquisition will begin in 2015 with construction beginning in 2017- 2018.
A DOT spokeswoman said Tuesday that about $32 million has been budgeted for the roadway, which will initially be expanded to four lanes with the possibility of six lanes in the future.
In June, Weatherford announced the plan but said it was not yet a “done deal.”
The project will provide another east-west corridor taking traffic off State Road 54 and will also provide a more direct truck route for the industrial development on the Chancey Road Bypass.
“[This is] certainly something that may have taken forever to get through the state bureaucracy if not for our Pasco County legislative delegation and Speaker Will Weatherford,” City Manager Jim Drumm said. “This will end the current status of a dead end state highway that takes you nowhere. This will be great for bridging our city and our airport with Wesley Chapel and great as it creates a complete coastal evacuation route.”
“It’s a great day for Zephyrhills,” Lair said Monday, citing development and growth that will come with the extension. “As a person who has grown up and was raised in Zephyrhills, I’m excited for the community.”