Pine Ridge residents seeking help from the Citrus County Commission to stop the Suncoast Parkway from dropping off at their doorstep may have to wait more than a year for an answer.
Commission Chairman Jeff Kinnard said Wednesday the earliest he could see the county discussing the Pine Ridge-C.R. 486-parkway issue is October 2020.
It will take that time for the state to complete its initial review of the Suncoast extension to the Georgia border, along with two other regional toll projects.
“We’ll want to see the results of the study,” Kinnard told the Chronicle Editorial Board.
He also said Pine Ridge residents shouldn’t be concerned in the meantime.
“I think we’ll have a much better idea before the first shovel of dirt is turned north of 44,” Kinnard said.
A bill moving through the Legislature, championed by Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, creates three new toll road projects, including an extension of the Suncoast Parkway to the Georgia border.
Each corridor will have a task force to review potential routes with a final report due June 30, 2020.
Kinnard said it wouldn’t make sense for the county to chime in on the C.R. 486 plans until after the Suncoast Parkway task force completes its mission.
More than 300 people packed a meeting Monday night with FDOT officials explaining the project. Several people had questions; none expressed support for an interchange at C.R. 486.
Kinnard, however, said Wednesday he doesn’t believe the Pine Ridge community is unified on the parkway interchange issue.
“A lot of folks in Pine Ridge are excited to have an exit there,” he said.
As for parkway opponents to the C.R. 486 interchange, Kinnard said: “I’ve heard from one.”
Jim Tucker, a member of the Pine Ridge Property Owners Association who has led the effort to obtain information regarding the project known as Suncoast 2, said he is nearly ready to present to county commissioners a petition asking the state to move the C.R. 486 interchange 100 yards in any east-west direction from the Pine Ridge entrance.
Tucker said he will request a letter from the county supporting the request.
He also said getting county support for an interchange that does not feed directly onto Pine Ridge Boulevard seems more likely than the board asking the state to bypass C.R. 486 altogether, as was in the original Suncoast 2 plans.
“We can ask for that, but I don’t think it’ll happen,” Tucker said.
County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith said he doesn’t want a parkway interchange across from Pine Ridge Boulevard, but he agreed with Kinnard that the county should let the process work before injecting itself.
But he also said the county commission should stay actively involved. Any potential damage to Pine Ridge’s property values during the uncertainty of the parkway route would hurt not only the community but also the county’s bottom line with fewer taxes paid.
“We definitely need to look at this as a countywide issue,” he said. “We don’t want the parkway to negatively impact Pine Ridge. It’s all part of the puzzle.”