Starkey to discuss elevated road at town hall

The official public meetings surrounding the elevated toll road concept proposed for the State Road 54/56 corridor might be a month or two off, but Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey is wasting no time giving residents a voice.

Starkey is planning a town hall meeting March 10 at 7 p.m., in the Sunlake High School cafeteria. The school is located at 3023 Sunlake Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes.

The official announcement of the meeting doesn’t suggest topics, but published reports say the controversy over the unsolicited bid from a private company to turn existing right of way into a toll express lane will be right at the top of the agenda.

International Infrastructure Partners are pushing for the road, which would eventually stretch 33 miles between U.S. 301 near Zephyrhills to U.S. 19 in New Port Richey. The final decision on whether to allow IIP to move forward on the potential $2.2 billion project lies with the Florida Department of Transportation. However, officials at the state agency said it would not green light the project if it doesn’t have support from the community and county commissioners.

Commissioners Henry Wilson and Jack Mariano have appeared to take stands against the road, however, Starkey has been more noncommittal either way, saying she is looking to get more information before making a decision.

Opponents to the road call it unnecessary, and has the potential to stymie growth and destroy home values and businesses. Those who support it, however, say it’s needed to help handle future traffic congestion in the corridor created not just by neighboring counties, but the anticipated growth in the southern portion of Pasco County as well.

For the county’s explanation of the elevated road concept, click here.

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