The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District Seven has conducted a Project Development & Environment (PD&E) study to evaluate alternative improvements for State Road (SR) 50 (US 98/Cortez Boulevard) from the in Hernando County. The study area extends from the Brooksville Bypass on the west end to Lockhart Road on the east end of the project for a length of approximately 7.2 miles. The section along SR 50 to the east of Lockhart Road was studied as a part of a separate Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved PD&E study (2014) – SR 50 (Cortez Boulevard) from west of I-75 to US 301 (SR 35/Treiman Boulevard), Work Program Item (WPI) Segment No. 416732-2, with the I-75 interchange area expected out under WPI Segment No. 411014-1.
Study Purpose and Need
SR 50 is a major east-west rural principal arterial that spans central Florida from coast to coast. In Hernando County, SR 50 connects several regionally significant corridors, including US 19, SR 589 (Suncoast Parkway), Us 41, and US 301. SR 50 is also a hurricane evacuation route, a designated truck route, part of the Strategic Intermodal System (SIS), and part of the West Central Florida Metropolitan Planning Organization Chairs Coordinating Committee’s (CCC) Regional Roadway Network. This segment of SR 50 connects the City of Brooksville to I-75.
The purpose of this project is to address projected roadway congestion due to future growth along the project corridor and within Hernando County. Increasing roadway capacity along this segment of SR 50 will accommodate future growth, provide for enhanced emergency response times and emergency evacuation, and work in conjunction with other projects planned or underway to increase the capacity of SR 50. The annual average daily traffic (AADT) within the study limits varied between 18,150 and 22,700 vehicles per day (VPD) in 2014. Year 2040 AADT’s based on Tampa Bay Regional Planning Model (TBRPM Version 7.2) are predicted to range from 47,400 to 59,100 VPD. This would result in level of service (LOS) “F” at the major intersections.
Within the limits of this PD&E study, the Hernando/Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) showed a need for improving SR 50 to 8 lanes, but the 2045 LRTP only shows funding for the design phase and right of way phase for expansion to 6 lanes in the Cost Feasible Plan.