It has been more than two decades in the making — but the first segment of the Ridge Road extension is expected to open this month.
Don’t expect great fanfare to accompany that opening, though.
“The plan is, the second it can open to traffic, it will open to traffic, and we will have a big event at some point, after that day,” Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles told the Pasco County Commission on Dec. 7.
“Now, we may do some kind of small parade that day, but nothing big,” Biles added.
Biles explained that he’s not going to delay opening the road simply to schedule a celebration. It takes time for those things because it involves coordinating “a ton of different calendars,” he added.
The first leg of the extension will carry traffic from Moon Lake Road in New Port Richey to the Suncoast Parkway in Land O’ Lakes.
The second leg, which is slated for completion in 2025, will extend Ridge Road to U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes.
The completion date for the second leg might be accelerated, if the Florida Legislature provides additional funding for the project.
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore recently announced that he had asked State Rep. Ardian Zika and State Sen. Ed Hooper to sponsor legislation seeking $14 million for the project, adding they both have agreed to do so.
County officials have pushed for the extension for decades, justifying the need for it to provide an additional east-west hurricane evacuation route.
The new 9-mile extension, once completed to U.S. 41, also will relieve traffic on State Road 52 and State Road 54, the only two through east-west roads that carry traffic across the county.
The extension also will support the area’s burgeoning growth.
A huge development known as the Angeline community will be rising on thousands of acres, south of State Road 52 and west of U.S. 41.
The future growth includes a 775-acre Pasco campus planned by Moffitt Cancer Center, near the Ridge Road and Suncoast Parkway interchange.
Moffitt’s campus is expected to become a magnet for life sciences research.
The county’s elected leaders and economic development experts also expect Moffitt’s development to have a transformative effect on the area’s future development and to generate thousands of jobs.
Leadership from Pasco County Schools and Moffitt already foresee great possibilities of working together when the district builds its planned 6-12 STEAM school on land near Moffitt’s planned campus. The acronym STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
Published December 15, 2021