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. 

Pine Ridge residents opposed to the Suncoast Parkway extending to C.R. 486, and potentially to their community’s front door, now have a new target to vent their frustrations — the county commission.

A standing room-only crowd of more than 300 people packed the Pine Ridge Community Center on Monday night to hear from the Florida Department of Transportation plans for extending the parkway 3 miles from S.R. 44 to C.R. 486, and potential plans to go even further northwest to U.S. 19.

The project manager for what is known as Suncoast 2, Steve Soldati, told the crowd that Citrus County commissioners asked for the extension to C.R. 486.

“We’re trying to work with local government,” he said. "Your voice to local government will be stronger than our voice.”

And Soldati acknowledged that plan could change if funding comes from the Legislature this year to begin studying extending the parkway to the Georgia border.

While the FDOT will wait on direction from Tallahassee, approval of the parkway's northern extension could affect whether the C.R. 486 extension takes place.

“It will be rediscussed,” he said.

pine ridge parkway jump

Traffic moves along County Road 486 at the entrance to Pine Ridge. While the state had agreed with the county to extend the Suncoast Parkway to C.R. 486, nearly opposite the Pine Ridge entrance, that project is now uncertain with news of continuing the parkway to U.S. 19. Original plans had an overpass — not an interchange — at C.R. 486.

Numerous Pine Ridge residents received notices in the mail from FDOT in the past month stating the state hired a consultant to begin a three-year design, engineering and environmental study on extending the roadway from S.R. 44 to U.S. 19.

Residents who packed the meeting and spoke up were opposed to an interchange at C.R. 486 — which was never part of the original Suncoast Parkway plans. Or, they wanted FDOT to ensure the interchange was at least 100 yards in either direction from the Pine Ridge Boulevard entrance.

Soldati said he could make no promises, only that it’s part of the study. He said the state is about a year away from having a public meeting on details and potential routes.

But that didn’t satisfy some residents who said FDOT should provide details on how the parkway’s future routes impact the community.

“What part of Pine Ridge are you planning on carving up?” asked Mike Perry, a member of the Pine Ridge Property Owners Association.

Gail Pridgen, president of the Pine Ridge Equestrian Association, and several others said they feared parkway-related traffic cutting through their community.

“Can’t funding be obtained so we can skip Pine Ridge and go right up to 19?” she said. “We don’t need more traffic through here.”

Property owners association president Mike McCoy told residents to flood county commission chambers during board meetings to urge commissioners to back off the C.R. 486 parkway extension plan.

“That’s the only way,” he said, “you’re really going to stop it.”

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

(8) comments

commonsense

Year started 1998 still waiting for some definitive site drawings and answers. Chronicle should step up there reporting and put some pressure on our politician's and fdot for the record.

MichaelTrombley

I'm ALL for this expansion, although I don't live in Pine Ridge. I'm looking forward to driving to Tampa Airport in 1hr and 10 instead of 1hr and 45min with traffic.

Madhatter

If the parkway moves 100 yards in either direction, pine ridge should lose that traffic light.

KSponsler

Shirley and I attended this meeting last evening and were struck by Mr. Soldati’s comments regarding why his briefing was limited to the SR 44 to CR 486 section of this road to nowhere. He stated that current funding extends the Parkway to CR 486 and no further North. Of course that was a convenient answer to resident’s questions and obvious concerns echoed by Mr. Perry’s inquiry, “what part of Pine Ridge are you planning on carving up?” So there is obviously a “plan” for development of a route beyond the entrance to Pine Ridge, else why the plan to “end” the road at our very doorstep as currently depicted? What wasn’t said by Mr. Soldati is the fact that it appears inevitable that funding will be approved well in advance of the alleged 2024 start date of the SR 44 to CR 486 project. Bottom line is we didn’t get the answers we had hoped to get. We still do not know “what part of Pine Ridge” and far beyond, they are planning on carving up, or when. We already know that there is no possible route from the entrance to Pine Ridge to the Duke Energy power lines just to our West that won’t involve the taking of our property. We want to know sooner rather than later so we can move and move on with life. My detailed survey of the Suncoast Parkway project reveals that NOWHERE along its current route has any other major community faced this monster at their doorstep. It makes no sense to dump this thing onto a community whose members largely moved here for the peace and quiet, large private plots, equestrian friendly trails and morning and evening walkers and bicycle riders. Our very way of life will be forfeited by this ill-planned monster. The roads of Pine Ridge that pass by our front doors will now become the shortcut for points North and the most direct route South to the Parkway. Wonderful!!!

Miuke Nelson

As long as we keep electing republicans this is what we can expect. Florida lost its environmental soul just after Bob Graham left as Governor. Republicans have been in charge ever since. By gutting growth management, and rolling back environmental enforecement they have ensure that this will be Floirda's future.

Ssabmud

It would be interesting to know who the Pine Ridge development voted for. If the vote was Republican then, it seems, that they are getting what they voted for.

MichaelTrombley

True. Republican Governors haven't been known to be pro-environment like a Democrat would be.

Madhatter

Move back to where you came from, that would help us native to Florida growth management.

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