Pine Ridge Estates residents sought support from Citrus County commissioners on Tuesday to keep the Suncoast Parkway from their doorstep.
Commissioners, who support extending the parkway to County Road 486, would not commit to anything specific because the state hasn’t set a route yet.
The state is now extending the parkway from U.S. 98 to State Road 44. The county has asked it be continued another two miles to C.R. 486 to avoid significant traffic increases onto C.R. 491.
But Pine Ridge residents noted the state never intended for an exit at C.R. 486, and if the state keeps the same alignment it had in place years ago, instead of an overpass the community will have traffic it doesn’t desire.
“Pine Ridge is directly in the path and will suffer greatly if it terminates at the 486 entrance,” Michael McCoy, president of the Pine Ridge Property Owners Association, said.
“Putting the terminus at 486 really provides no benefit to Pine Ridge,” he added. “Where it’s terminating now is really the best you could hope for.”
Residents said Pine Ridge is an equestrian community, with a 29-mile horse trail that crosses Pine Ridge Boulevard five times.
They said speeding now on the boulevard is common, as it is used as a connector between Beverly Hills and Crystal River.
Gail Pridgen, president of the Pine Ridge Equestrian Association, said she fears accidents where horses are injured or killed crossing the roadway.
Dee Castellano said traffic on Pine Ridge Boulevard has increased in the four years she’s lived in the community.
“It’s dangerous now and we don’t have the exit there yet,” she said.
Commissioners said they support the community.
“You have legitimate concerns,” Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith said.
Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. suggested the county and community work with the Florida Department of Transportation on an alignment.
Board Chairman Jeff Kinnard also said the community needs to address the speeding issue with the sheriff’s office.
“We need to get out there,” he said, “and slow things down.”