If it seems the Suncoast Parkway’s progress through Citrus County is progressing at a fast pace, it is.

So much so that the contractor informed state officials they are prepared to open the portion between U.S. 98 and Cardinal Street in October, and the remainder to State Road 44 two months later, according to an email senior project engineer Mark Cook sent Citrus County officials.

The road is 87% complete, the email states.

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If the proposed accelerated schedule is kept, the parkway will open two or three months early.

County Administrator Randy Oliver explained it this way in an email to county commissioners:

“... They will be opening the Suncoast in two sections. The south section from ... US-98 up to Cardinal interchange by mid October 2021 and then they want to open the north section from Cardinal to SR-44 by end of the year 2021. Completion was originally scheduled for March 2022.”

Cook said the proposed schedule must be approved by the Florida Turnpike Authority.

“This is their goal and I’m not sure they will meet this goal but we have to be prepared if they do," Cook wrote to Citrus County project manager Walt Eastmond. “We wanted to ensure you and your superiors in the agencies at Citrus County are fully alerted to this goal and the possibility we will be proceeding in this way.”

Oliver noted one fly in the ointment: Citrus County will be inheriting the maintenance and upkeep of the 13 miles of multi-purpose path that runs parallel to the parkway. He told a reporter that he doesn’t know yet the potential cost, but would have it soon.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com. To view more of his stories, go to www.tinyurl.com/y3bakm6w.