State transportation officials, for the first time, have confirmed a plan to continue the Suncoast Parkway to County Road 486 to follow the completion of the connection to State Road 44.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s District 7 five-year plan for Citrus County includes $86.6 million to extend the parkway three miles from S.R. 44 to C.R. 486.

The plan will be presented to the Hernando-Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization at its meeting Wednesday.

Citrus County commissioners discussed the parkway briefly Tuesday during a planning retreat at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Commissioners said they hoped this is a sign that the state plans to continue the parkway north out of Citrus County.

While the state has not decided on a specific route, it already owns much of the right of way based on plans 20 years ago to extend the parkway from U.S. 98 to U.S.19 north of Crystal River. The original plans had an overpass without an exit at C.R. 486.

Pine Ridge residents asked commissioners last week for help in urging the state to push the parkway terminus further east. Residents said they feared a significant bump in traffic through their community from the parkway.

Commissioners, however, said their focus should be on supporting the parkway’s continued northern route, out of Citrus County.

Scott Carnahan mug

County Commissioner Scott Carnahan.

Commissioner Scott Carnahan said he thinks once that happens the state will close the C.R. 486 exit and make it an overpass, as was the state’s original plans.

County Administrator Randy Oliver and Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith, however, said they doubt that will happen.

“I’ve never seen one go away,” Oliver said.

Commissioner Brian Coleman said he doesn’t think Pine Ridge residents have a worry. He said he’s heard from other Pine Ridge residents who are looking forward to the close parkway access.

Brian Coleman Citrus County Commission 2017

Citrus County Commissioner Brian Coleman.

He noted that when the parkway ends at C.R. 486, motorists will be directed east toward C.R. 491 or west toward Crystal River.

“They’re either going to go left or right,” Coleman said.

The five-year plan includes:

--2020, $3 million for planning/engineering and right of way. The plan will include an optional design to continue the roadway north to U.S. 19, the FDOT report states.

--2022, $18.2 million for right of way and relocating utilities.

--2024, $65 million for construction.

 “It’s what Citrus County has been asking for and now they’re getting it,” said Steve Diez, executive director of the Hernando-Citrus MPO.

Diez said he does not know what the FDOT’s proposed route will be to County Road 486 and is hoping for more specifics from Jim Martin, the FDOT’s liaison with Florida Turnpike Enterprise, when he gives his report Wednesday to the MPO board regarding the five-year tentative work program.

 Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates contributed to this report.

 

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

(12) comments

MichaelTrombley

I'm all for this expansion, but I don't live in Pine Ridge. With that being said, expanding now makes sense for the State. It's better to disrupt a handful of residents now instead of 100-200 in 20 years.

Littled

How does having an exit at 486 instead of or in addition to 44 solve any problems whatsoever? Take a referendum. Thinking residents don't want more exits. Make it an overpass over 486 when the time comes to extend north. This county is too small for so many exits. And we want it to remain small.

MichaelTrombley

What's this "we" stuff? I would love to get to Tampa Airport in 1hour and 10 minutes instead of 1 hour 45 minutes.

sierra1

It is a shame that the Chronicle censors some comments even when they are posed as a question. They must be dire afraid of offending the County Commissioners. A real thin skinned newspaper. I'm sure this comment will be removed as well.

JasonDunn

Highway 19 is a nightmare. This project cannot get done soon enough.

June RH

Welcome to the 21st century Citrus County. If you want to move, at least take advantage of the higher property values when you sell your home. I doubt whether the people of Homosassa and Crystal River feel much sympathy. They are the ones who bore the brunt of the last hurricane traffic.

satan352

[thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown]
What happened to Citrus County this county is not the same and I hate what is become and becoming this is the worst thing that could ever happen no wonder everybody wants to move away this town is destroyed the forest and tree demolitions slashed through the county thanks a lot for ruining this County rot u dirt bags[thumbdown][angry][angry]

MAEL

Everybody's all for this thing til it comes through THEIR neighborhood.

Fl Native

Dear Mael,
You are incorrect on so many levels! People moved here and invested their savings for a home in a quiet, beautiful, clean, nature-oriented locale. Greed and ignorance has taken over our leaders. They are giving away the one thing our county had to offer. Such fools are they and those that agree with destroying this county to avoid a 15-20 minute drive to get on the existing tollroad ramp....When you generalize and say 'everybody' you are living with blinders on and more times than not, incorrect....

MichaelTrombley

We could say the same for you. Not "everybody" wants to drive 30 minutes to get to the toll road.

KSponsler

[angry]Our home is in Pine Ridge, just West of the entrance on CR 486. This discussion of the route being potentially further East on CR 486 doesn't make sense, nor does the idea of changing an exit to an overpass at some future date. In my view, this thing will align with the power line just a few hundred yards from our home and impact the entirety of properties bordering the power line in West Pine Ridge. As I've written before, there's nothing worse than uncertainty. We can't improve, invest, sell or continue our dream of living out our days at our home. After nearly thirty years of Army service and following orders to move all over the world, we moved here near my beloved salt water fishing and wonderful Florida weather, thinking our moves were finally over. My wife's craft room build in now on hold. Her boxes full of stamps, paper, cutters, inks, patterns,etc; remain in their boxes piled on the floor for how long we don't know and that is the worst part of this. The unknown of when and whether or not eminent domain for us will be fair. For everyone who thinks this is a wonderful thing for the community I can only say I hope you get what you wished for. If you're not personally impacted by this, your views can certainly expand beyond ours. I have often traveled the Suncoast Parkway to and from Tampa as our daughter lives down there. Coming home, the majority of traffic seems to exit at 46 or 41. A few of us go all the way to US 98. Maybe that will change, I sure hope so after all this.

lonewolf

Over 10 years ago the Board of County Commissioner including Dennis Damato and Joe Meek had the opportunity along with the remaining Commissioners to kill this project and did not do so. They would not even issue a referendum vote for citizens of Citrus County to decide. The Parkway will be on of the worst things to happen to Citrus County. History will demonstrate it.

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