THE ISSUE: County officials, civic leaders get road update from DOT secretary. 

OUR OPINION: The future of roads in Citrus looks bright. 

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Citrus County leaders recently got an informative update from Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Kevin Thibault, whose Legislative Days meeting painted an optimistic picture of the future of roads in Citrus. 

Big projects are progressing, and ideas that were once just a desired concept are moving forward with tenacity. 

It’s good to see that state officials are listening to the road infrastructure needs of our county, and are providing some clarity to the funding and maturation of multiple road changes in our area. 

Thibault touched on transportation topics like the extension of the Suncoast Parkway beyond Citrus, the reclassification of Turkey Oak Drive, widening U.S. 41 north of Inverness and the Fort Island Trail multi-use path.

County officials and civic leaders posed questions to Thibault, who provided insight while covering funding resources and concept feasibility. Many who participated in the Tallahassee meeting walked away not only more informed, but pleased.

City Manager Ken Frink expressed his pleasure when Thibault said funding for a bypass around Crystal River using Turkey Oak drive might be available through the County Incentive Grant Programs, along with the potential for two-lane arterial roads like Turkey Oak to be improved with the passing of SB 100. 

And supporters of the long-anticipated widening of U.S. 41 from State Road 44 to the Withlacoochee Trail Bridge sighed with relief as Thibault said that portion of widening is fully funded with construction to begin in 2023. 

Commissioner Jeff Kinnard reached out for guidance on the Fort Island Trail multi-use path, still in the strategic planning phase. Thibault actively listened to the merits of the project, offering his suggestion of attaching it to the state’s SUN Trail Network. 

Overall, the meeting was highly productive and outlined definitive movement in the county’s top priority road projects. 

Many of our collective county “wants” are turning into real actions. This is great progress being made thanks to a good group of politicians and community folks, like Josh Wooten and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, who arrange these meetings and push these important projects. 

Thanks to them, Citrus’ transportation picture looks brighter.