No one knows yet where Florida’s Turnpike will intersect with the Suncoast Parkway, but a group began the task Tuesday of narrowing down where it shouldn’t go.

Members of the Northern Turnpike Extension Task Force, meeting at the College of Central Florida, identified in general terms areas the roadway should avoid and others that can be mitigated if they can’t be avoided.

Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter counties, which comprise the study area, all have large pockets of farms, springs, wildlife, historical structures and other natural areas that could stand in the way of an expressway.

Task force members are to recommend which of these areas should be avoided altogether, mitigated or even enhanced.

Citrus County Commissioners Scott Carnahan and Jeff Kinnard both noted that rural areas served by septic tanks could be improved by the law creating the toll roads because it also includes the potential for sewer projects in the same corridors. That could help clean up impaired lakes, rivers and streams, they said.

“They’re impaired for a reason,” Kinnard said.

Task force members also discussed the impact on agriculture and family farms. Several members suggested the study break down the types of farms — a farm that produces crops may have a different role than one that produces timber.

“It’s going to affect ag in our county across the board,” Levy County Commissioner Russell “Rock” Meeks said.

Carnahan said the task force shouldn’t assume farmers will oppose the toll road. Some, he said, may be ready to sell.

“They might be willing to say, ‘hey, I want you to come through here,’” he said.

The task force is part of the M-CORES project. M-CORES, mandated by state law, stands for Multi-UseCorridors of Regional Economic Significance. Its goal is to build three new toll roads in the next 10 years — extending the Suncoast Parkway to Jefferson County; connecting the turnpike to the parkway, and building another toll road connecting Polk and Collier counties.

The northern turnpike now concludes at Wildwood.

Inverness resident John Wade, during the public comment portion of the meeting, said the state shouldn’t be looking at the turnpike extension until it knows where the Suncoast Parkway extension is headed.

“This task force has the cart before the horse,” he said.

Task force member Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon Florida, said he hopes there is a time for the task force to discuss a “no build” option.

“It’s a viable option,” he said.

He also said the Florida Department of Transportation should also provide a cost analysis to prove the turnpike system can afford to build three new toll roads.

Task force chairman Tom Byron, FDOT assistant secretary for strategic development, said during a break in the meeting that the task force will not consider a no-build option. He said the FDOT would determine that during its planning and design studies.

The Suncoast Connector Task Force, which includes counties from Citrus north to Jefferson County, meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday at CF in Lecanto.

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

(9) comments

jpiraux

Do you all want to ride on horse and buggys? I believe that these roads will be great for traveling faster and more efficiently. Yes, it will come at a cost, but everything cannot be perfect. Think about what is what like when the interstate project was just getting started. Think of how many people like you were angry and upset at the idea of taking so much land, trees, peoples' property and look how it turned out. These projects are necessary in keeping up with the increase in the population of Florida and I believe they are something that has been needed.

Native Cracker

Yes, a total sham for democracy. One point not brought up in the Min Flows meeting was the science of observation. The most basic and determining factor in the tool box. I believe the proof they are relying on is 'flawed science' as they never incorporated the observation factor. Numbers and conclusions can be purposefully changed but the eyes of a thousand, can but only report the truth, the facts. When thousands see the truth on a daily basis, that should be the conclusion not flawed numbers or scenarios.

LARRYG

Boo Birds! Boo Birds! Please move and go and roast somewhere else.

MichaelDuke

I've been here all of my life. But it might be time for you to go. I'll even help you pack.

RobertRoscow

It’s just plain ignorance on Commissioners Carnahan and Kinnard to think it’s feasible to run 30 miles of sewer line from the Turnpike to wherever the Suncoast Parkway is and then 150 miles to Georgia and another 100 miles to Naples. These meetings are for the north end and it appears they are not familiar with their own county. You would have to run lines across lakes and areas that flood all the time from heavy rains let alone hurricanes. Very sophisticated package treatment plants are available where you have homes relatively close. But even then there are owners that might be a mile from the main lines. Are you really going to run a mile to their house. There are also new and very effective septic systems but in all cases septic systems have to be raised above the water table. Many areas of Citrus, Sumter, and Levy counties and other lowland counties have this problem of high water tables so systems must be raised on fill. This brings up another even bigger issue. How do you drain these roads if the water table is so high? Sounds like some Commissioners need a quick course in civil engineering. As to Byron’s statement on the “No Build Option” it was also not to be an option during the PD&E Study. If that’s the case there is no PD&E Study since that’s the whole point of a PD&E to weigh all the pros and cons and then decide if the “No Build” is the best option. I hope Mr. Byron knows where to find the PD&D Manual, the Bible Of FDOT and Tpk. As for mitigation, those of who were fighting to preserve as required by laws state and federal after review the Etna site found this is another term for destroy and then try to make up for the loss. Well the display proposed for Etna is in Hernando County near Brooksville. Etna was a town of some 200 African Americans living in shanties with dirt floors and treated like slaves. There will be no shanty at the display and it’s nearly 20 miles from away. No laws were followed.

The solution is to widen I-75 that will also provide work and elevate sections that are constrained like in Ocala. I guess FDOT forgot they did this in Tampa, Weikiva, and now Orlando. Also no mention of how the new AV technology will greatly lessen road requirements. Tesla’s 80,000 max gross weight can go 0-60 in something like 10 seconds. They can be controlled to safely by 1 yard apart. It appears FDOT is still caught up with Chinese rockets and hasn’t heard of little ones we have now like the Saturn IV-C or Musk’s rocket that just launched 30 satellites in one fell swoop. This is a scam and everyone knows it. It’s to develop are wonderful rural lands and spring sheds so that we end up with lyngba. Quit trying to dupe us.

MichaelDuke

I like this guy. What he said....[thumbup]

HANSW

The best way to guarantee inaction and lack of progress is to spend time figuring out the negatives and problems As in the more interest group meeting the worst the problem gets

CitrusCo Citizen

Since Gov. DeSantis recently signed the tollroad highway boondoggle into law, and it is a done deal, then why do they even bother to hold these meetings for "public input"? Nothing the public can say or do will change their minds--wealthy corporations are dictating highways, controlling the legislatures and forcing the paymet of these highways on Florida taxpayers and that is that. And this is only the beginning of the complete development and urban sprawl of the Gulf Coast--nothing can stop these corporations now. Democracy is rapidly dying in Florida, especially the Nature Coast, and we now have a full=blown dictatorship. It's important that the nation take notice of what is happening to Florida and be warned.

Miuke Nelson

As long as we keep electing the same people (Republicans), this is what is going to keep happening. The corporate interests have already pre-determined the outcome and public hearings are just a formality. There are no consequences for them ignoring us unless we translate that into votes. Another prime example of this is SWFWMD's Minimum Flows. Not only are they ignoring the public, but they are disingenuous about it, trying to tell us that they are following the science. So as I understand it, that "science" says they can take more water and not damage the environment, so following that logic, that same science must also say that taking less water would not only NOT further damage the environment but actually improve it. Why not follow that science?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.