Construction soon on safety improvements at sinkhole

Construction on two turn-around driveways to ease traffic flow at the site of a sinkhole in Lake Padgett Estates is expected to be done by this fall.

Construction will begin soon on two turn-arounds on each side of a sinkhole on Ocean Pines Drive in Lake Padgett Estates.

The sinkhole opened up on July 14, 2017, causing extensive damage. It split Ocean Pines Drive into two segments, swallowed two houses, a motorcycle and a boat, and caused seven houses in the area to be condemned.

Pasco County is in initial stages of purchasing needed right of way on Ocean Pines Drive for the turn-arounds.

A 6-foot decorative fence, and a gate, also will be installed around the sinkhole.

Pasco County officials also have ruled out any possibility of opening a connection between the sinkhole and Lake Saxon.

Some residents had expressed interest in linking the sinkhole to Lake Saxon in meetings with county officials.

County officials have estimated that linking the sinkhole and Lake Saxon would cost an estimated $2 million.

But, that option has been ruled out, after county officials met with representatives from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

“They were strongly against the connection because of unraveling, deep unraveling, and possible sinkhole activity,” said Margaret Smith, the county’s engineer services director. “They also have concerns about the aquifer, knowing a lot of people are on wells.”

Smith gave the Pasco County Commission an update of the county’s plans during the commission’s June 19 meeting in New Port Richey.

Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore expressed concerns about the aesthetics of the wrap-around fence.

“What are we going to do to make sure it’s appealing to the eye, and continuing to keep up property values?” Moore asked. “We’re not just tossing a fence up. It’s got to look decent.”

Smith said current plans were for a “little bit of landscaping.” More can be added to the design, but she said the county would own only a strip of land bought for right of way.

Pasco County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder noted: “This is not a county project. We are stabilizing a situation that basically occurred by an

act of God.”

Pasco County commissioners agreed in March to build the turn-arounds and install the fence at an estimated cost of $242,000.

The turn-arounds will provide greater safety when garbage trucks and emergency vehicles drive in and out of both ends of Ocean Pines. Currently, vehicles must back up to exit or back into private driveways to turn around.

County commissioners reviewed several other options, including simply installing a fence.

Published June 27, 2018

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