Ridge Road extension is a step closer

Pasco County is placing a future order to buy wetlands adjacent to the Connerton Preserve to offset wetlands that would be lost due to construction of the Ridge Road extension.

The Pasco County Commission approved a wetlands credit purchase agreement with Ecosystem Investment Partners Credit Co., for up to $4.4 million at its March 27 meeting in New Port Richey.

The item, part of the commission’s consent agenda, was approved with no discussion.

Richard Stauffer studied a map at the Serenova Tract at the Starkey Wilderness Preserve prior to a rally and nature walk by opponents of the Ridge Road extension in February. (File)

The total purchase price would be split between Pasco County and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, which also needs wetlands credits for the project.

The county’s share would be about $3.2 million. The state road agency would reimburse for the remainder.

The agreement locks in a purchase price and ensures the credits will be available if, and when, the United States Army Corps of Engineers issues a permit.

The county has sought approval for the road project for nearly two decades. A decision from the Army Corps is anticipated in coming months.

The proposed project is for an 8-mile extension of Ridge Road which now dead-ends at Moon Lake Road.

The new road would link Moon Lake in west Pasco to U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes, across from an entrance into the master-planned community of Connerton.

The county puts a high priority on the Ridge Road extension as an evacuation route during hurricane evacuations.

But, environmental activists oppose the road extension, which would cut through a portion of the Serenova Preserve.

Community activist Dan Callaghan called the project the “zombie highway to nowhere” during public comment portion of the March 27 meeting.

Callaghan is a member of the Save Serenova Coalition. The Sierra Club is among 30 area groups included in the coalition.

Attorneys for the Sierra Club have submitted documentation to the Corps of Engineers opposing the Ridge Road extension.

Opponents maintain that the county isn’t being transparent on the final costs of the road work, which they contend could reach $150 million.

“Who will be the first to say enough to this boondoggle?” Callaghan said.

County officials have disputed the coalition’s data on the construction costs.

The wetlands credits would come from the Old Florida Mitigation Bank, located south of State Road 52 and east of U.S. 41, adjacent to the Connerton Preserve.

According to county documents, a construction start is scheduled for winter 2018, and a completion by winter 2021.

Construction would be in two phases, with the first phase from Moon Lake to the east side of Suncoast Parkway. The cost is estimated at $77 million, according to county documents.

Published April 4, 2018

Comments

  1. Dan Callaghan says:

    The Ridge Road Extension a step closer? I respect Kathy Steele’s writing but not this headline or some of the talking points of the Pasco County Commissioners she includes. True the county commissioners just approved spending over $4 million for wetlands destruction credits, which they will use to destroy parts of the Serenova Wilderness Tract IF the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves their permit to kill what remains of natural beauty amide the pavement and concrete called Pasco County. This is a permit they have denied for the longest time in Corps of Engineers history, and judging by our attorneys’ two submissions of county lies, distortions, failures, and things to do, the Ridge Road Extension is still decades away from beginning, let alone being completed. The county commission knows we don’t need another hurricane evacuation route–Hurricane Irma showed everyone evacuated easily who wanted to. It’s about developers, and money paid to commissioners, and greed. Funny that this article left all that out.

  2. This road is perfect and will ease congestion on other routes, I for one am behind this thing being built! Dan Callaghan seems like a an attention seeker to me.

  3. I live in Port Richey and I agree that we in West Pasco desperately need the extension! As for Dan Callaghan, we take your attacks personally. You sir, are the only liar. It isn’t about developers. It’s about an ENTIRE county having TWO east/west roads! Why don’t you try commuting on SR 54 for a week!

  4. 30 area groups, really? Why is it always the same “community activist” that gets quoted then? I doubt he has as much support as he wants us to believe. If you work, live or have a business anywhere in West Pasco, you are most likely happy to see this project move forward.

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