Pine Ridge residents fearing that the second phase of the Suncoast Parkway 2 would end at their subdivision entrance breathed a sigh of relief Thursday after state transportation officials presented two proposals, each about 1,400 feet east of the community’s front door.
Florida Department of Transportation officials hosted a public meeting Thursday at the Citrus County National Guard Armory in Crystal River to present the latest extension of the North/South corridor along Florida’s west coast.
“We listened. We met with the homeowners associations. We heard ... they did not want a direct connection (onto West Pine Ridge Boulevard),” said Stephanie Eisenberg, spokeswoman for the FDOT.
Both plans include ending the parkway just short of County Road 486 but with an exit onto County Road 486 at the current intersection of North Knoll Road.
The first proposal has that exit as a flyover of the future planned phase of the parkway. The second proposal has simply an exit at the same North Knoll Road intersection but with plans to move it west of the West Pine Ridge Boulevard intersection if the parkway is ever extended further north.
Current construction of the parkway, which ends at U.S. 98, extends from County Road 491 to State Road 44.
Pine Ridge resident Wayne Tuch, 70, said he was concerned that if the parkway exit intersected County Road 486 at West Pine Ridge Boulevard it would have brought too much traffic to that intersection.
East of there, “would be an OK compromise,” he said.
Too many drivers already use West Pine Ridge Boulevard to County Road 491 as it is, said the retired electrical contractor. Adding the parkway intersection there would have only made traffic at the intersection worse.
Work on the $134.6 million project extending the Suncoast Parkway from U.S. 98 to State Road 44 began in April and is expected to wrap up in 2022.
The state is committing $86.6 million to design, buy right of way and build the additional 3 miles between State Road 44 and County Road 486 in Lecanto. That work could start in 2024.
Pine Ridge resident Stu Barnette, 84, said he came to the meeting wanting to know if FDOT heard his community’s concerns. He said FDOT did.
“This will work. It will direct traffic away from Pine Ridge Boulevard,” he said
But Denny King, 72, also a Pine Ridge resident, said the fear of traffic “was all overblown.”
Florida needs a north/south thoroughfare on its west coast and the parkway will provide that, he said.
He also doesn’t think the parkway will bring much traffic to Pine Ridge. Drivers who utilize Pine Ridge Boulevard to County Road 491 will keep doing so, but the parkway won’t change that traffic flow much.
“Twenty five years from now, maybe,” he said. “But not now.”
For project updates go to www.suncoast2.com.