THONOTOSASSA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Department of Transportation says it is still in the environmental phase of a project designed to expand 13.1 miles of U.S. 301, a heavily traveled roadway used by commuters between Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

“It’s a partnership with the public,” says Kris Carson, an FDOT spokesperson who urged patience from people hoping to see the lengthy project move quicker.

FDOT estimates over 18,000 people travel on the road each day. By 2042, the agency predicts that the number will rise to 50,000 daily commuters. FDOT held a public input meeting in March 2022 and has another one planned for June 2023 as the project moves forward.

“It’s kind of like an interstate with driveways,” says Mike Grover, the pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He says in his 15 years at the church, he’s seen numerous accidents requiring medical attention.

“At one point we had a young couple, their little girl in the backseat. She was pregnant. Coming in here on Wednesday night, they were hit and had to take him life flight out of here,” he says.

Grover is hoping to see improvements to the roadway that he feels might slow down the flow of traffic, adding that he doesn’t believe most drivers observe the 60 mph speed limit on the lengthy roadway.

FDOT says they must consider environmental impacts and further evaluate property they would need to purchase for the project, which was met with some opposition from property owners at the previous meeting in March.

Grover is hoping to see change sooner rather than later.

“As a dad, one of my greatest fears when my kids got their driver’s license was knowing that they had to drive to our church on this road,” he added.