NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — A 2016 plan to build an overpass for pedestrians and bikers over U.S. 19 in New Port Richey is among the priorities to be revisited by the Pasco County Commission this week.
- Unable to completely secure funding for project before
- Overpass would cross 10 lanes of traffic
- Board expected to vote October 23 on which priorities to pursue
Drive along U.S. 19 in Pasco County, and it’s hard not to notice cross after cross dotting the sides of the road.
Many were placed in memory of people killed in car or motorcycle crashes. Others, however, honor people who were just trying to get to the other side of the busy highway.
“There’ve been so many pedestrian deaths on U.S. 19 within the boundaries of the city,” said New Port Richey City Manager Debbie Manns.
According to Sgt. Erik Jay, head of the police department’s Traffic Homicide Unit, seven pedestrians and one bicyclist have been killed along the stretch of U.S. 19 within the city limits since 2016.
One of the busiest spots for crashes is where the roadway meets Marine Parkway. That’s where Cirilo Fulgencio tried to cross on his bike Monday morning.
When asked if he ever fears for his safety while bicycling along 19, Fulgencio said, “Yes, I do – especially when I try to cross the street.”
Funding available now?
Manns said the city started talking about building an overpass for walkers and people on bikes back two years ago. A grant for $750,000 was secured for the project, but the city wasn’t able to get the rest of the money together.
Pasco’s Board of County Commissioners is expected to consider a list of state legislative priorities for 2019 at its October 23 meeting. Among the list is securing $4 million to build the overpass.
“A partnership with the county might be just the final ticket we need to bring the project to fruition,” said Manns.
The overpass would cross ten lanes of traffic at the intersection. Manns said the structure the city had planned would be 145 ft. long and 12 ft. wide.
“It will be wonderful,” said Fulgencio of the plan. “It will be good because, as you can see, everybody’s waiting to cross the street, and the cars – they go way too fast.”
A county spokesperson said the board is expected to vote at their meeting on October 23 what priorities to pursue.
Manns said no further planning on the project will be done until a significant amount of funding is secured.