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.

Pine Ridge parkway meeting

 Pine Ridge residents listen in April as Suncoast 2 project manager Steve Soldati explains the process for the potential extension of the parkway between S.R. 44 and C.R. 486 near the Pine Ridge entrance. More than 300 people attended the meeting. 

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.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.

(2) comments

RobertRoscow

Very interesting that the BOCC knows so much. I contacted a high level planner at the Georgia DOT and he said FDOT had not communicated with them at all. So if the Suncoast Parkway goes to the Georgia line I guess you can admire the pine trees. A member also called the director of our MPO and he had heard nothing either of these three new toll roads. A minor detail is that robbing from the General Fund for doing preliminary studies for these three toll roads is actually a total change in the enabling legislation written and approved in 2002. Sounds to me like Tpk is having financial problems. If you cannot make it on getting over $700 million a year from the tolls on the original Florida Turnpike, sounds like these new toll roads aren’t paying their way. We sure know that’s the case for the Suncoast. The Suncoast only brought in 3.7% of the revenue of the Florida Turnpike now renamed the Main Line.
I’m disappointed that it seems the interests of Pine Ridge are just limited to their entry. Unfortunately that seems to be typical of all developments in Citrus County.

Madhatter

"IF" the parkway has an exit on 486, which I would like, moves either way on 486, then Pine Ridge could and should lose their traffic light.

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