County outlines Ridge Road construction timeline

Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles recently laid out the time frame for the completion of the Ridge Road extension, a project that eventually will provide a new east-west corridor between Moon Lake Road and U.S. 41.

The project is broken into two phases, with a groundbreaking for the first phase held earlier this week.

County Administrator Dan Biles recently outlined a time frame for completing the Ridge Road extension, a new east-west connection for motorists. (File)

During the Pasco County Commission meeting last week, Biles laid out the time frame for the project — which the county has pursued for two decades. It finally received a permit for the project in December from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The first phase will build a new stretch of Ridge Road, which will extend from Moon Lake Road east to the Suncoast Parkway.

The second phase will continue the extension eastward, linking the Suncoast Parkway to U.S. 41.

Biles laid out these project milestones:

  • To Town Center Boulevard by Sept. 16
  • Two lanes to the Suncoast Parkway: July 20, 2021
  • Four lanes to the Suncoast Parkway: July 20, 2022
  • Four lanes to Sunlake Boulevard: September 2022
  • Four lanes to U.S. 41: September 2025

Although the first milestone calls for completion by Sept. 16, Biles believes that work will be finished sooner.

“We believe we will be able to get two lanes of traffic, if not all four lanes, before school starts, even if they’re not all done and buttoned up with that section,” Biles said. “We’re working with the school district to make sure that happens.”

There have long been complaints about traffic safety issues at River Ridge Middle and River Ridge High. The Ridge Road project would provide a second entrance and exit to the schools, improving safety.

The county is using an incentive system to encourage construction work to beat deadlines.

Biles told commissioners that the dates he outlined are considered to be “zero dates.”

“So, if they beat that date, there’s a bonus,” Biles explained.

The two lanes to the Suncoast also includes the entrance to the Moffitt/Excalibur piece, Biles said, referring to a massive “city within a city” type of project planned for Central Pasco.

The schedule, Biles said, “gets us two lanes of traffic to the Suncoast by the hurricane season in ’21,” one of the primary aims of the extension.”

Four lanes to the Suncoast Parkway would be completed the following year, he said.

“Four lanes to Sunlake (Boulevard) is part of the development agreement between us and Len/Angeline, and Moffitt plays a role,” Biles said.

The four lanes to U.S. 41 are expected to be finished in late 2025, completing the project, he added.

Biles told commissioners: “I would not go out there and tell people we are going to get all of the way to (U.S.) 41 in ’22 or ’23. I think ’25 is a backstop, and if it happens earlier, great, but ’25 is a backstop.”

But, Commissioner Jack Mariano observed: “I think if the folks over at Connerton, if they want to see that connection, they may try to work an agreement with us to help fund it, to get it there quicker.”

Biles responded: “It’s always possible.”

Published January 15, 2020

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