Pasco officials learned in late August how luck favors preparation. An investment group, International Infrastructure Partners LLC, has proposed to fund and construct a State Road 54/56 elevated tollway across Pasco County from U.S. Highway 19 to U.S. Highway 301, using private funds.
The project would invest hundreds of millions of dollars into Pasco County and, in effect, complete the northern expressway loop that was never constructed in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The unsolicited proposal was received by the FDOT.
Over a year ago, however, the idea was actually hatched by Pasco County officials, who presented it to the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc. There, it received positive response from Pasco business leaders, and a feasibility study was initiated. Subsequently, Pasco planning and transportation officials unveiled the concept, where it was viewed as a bold, imaginative initiative. At that time, county officials described an optimistic three-year timeframe to plan and begin execution of the project, and FDOT agreed to expedite any proposals regarding the elevated tollway, noting that under Florida law an unsolicited proposal could be turned around in a 60-day request-for-proposal process.
Then came the offer of private funds.
The new proposal triggers that state requirement, accelerates the county’s planning and puts Pasco County right in the crosshairs of regional economic development.