The latest Suncoast Parkway maps for the route north of State Road 44 show interchanges at County Road 486 — but avoiding the entrance to Pine Ridge.
The maps, part of a PowerPoint that state transportation officials planned to show at an open house in September, say funding is in place to extend the parkway 3 miles north from S.R. 44 to C.R. 486 in 2023.
Florida Department of Transportation cancelled the Sept. 19 open house. A spokeswoman said it was postponed to provide more time to develop design alternatives; the date has not been reset.
Maps show two interchange alternatives at C.R. 486. One would come out at Knoll Road, a private dirt two-track road about a quarter-mile east of Pine Ridge Boulevard near LKQ Crystal River, formally Damron’s.
The other alternative shows two potential interchanges for the Suncoast as it continues northwest to U.S. 19: One at Knoll Road and the other about a quarter-mile west of Pine Ridge Boulevard.
Jim Tucker, a board member of the Pine Ridge Property Owners Association who is closely following the parkway discussion, was pleased to hear of the new maps.
“If those are the two locations, I’m glad to see it’s not across from Pine Ridge,” he said.
The preliminary maps are far different than those considered in 2016, when the state’s initial thought brought the parkway to C.R. 486 directly opposite the Pine Ridge entrance. Several Pine Ridge residents and community leaders asked for county commission help in moving the interchange because they feared a rash of traffic in and out of Pine Ridge related to the parkway.
County Commission Chairman Jeff Kinnard said he also was happy to hear the state was moving interchanges away from Pine Ridge.
“That address their concerns and gets an interchange at 486, which could certainly be beneficial from an economic development standpoint,” he said.
The state is currently building the Suncoast Parkway segment between U.S. 98 and S.R. 44. Original plans had it continuing north and west to U.S. 19 north of Crystal River in Red Level, with an overpass at C.R. 486 and an exit at C.R. 495 (Citrus Avenue).
In 2016 the state, at the county’s request, began designing an interchange at C.R. 486.
The state is now planning to extend the Suncoast north to Interstate 10 or the Georgia border. Kinnard and Commissioners Scott Carnahan and Ron Kitchen Jr. sit on task forces to discuss both the Suncoast extension and Florida Turnpike extension from Wildwood to the parkway.