Citrus County wants input on potential turnpike routes
During the coronavirus crisis, Florida Department of Transportation will stop accepting cash for tolls.

Florida's Turnpike At Leesburg Toll Plaza
'Let’s start laying out how we go about this decision'

Citrus County commissioners say they want to be on the front end of the state’s plans to extend Florida’s Turnpike from Wildwood to U.S. 19 near Crystal River.

Rather than wait for the state to tell Citrus which of the four preferred alternative routes it chooses, Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said the community should be involved in gathering input now.

“We know public interest is gaining ground,” Kinnard said during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.

Kinnard suggested, and the board agreed, to conduct a workshop in May to discuss which route it prefers and which ones to avoid, and then to provide that information to the state.

“Let’s start laying out how we go about this decision,” he said.

The Northern Turnpike Extension is the remaining piece from the 2019 M-CORES legislation, which directed three new toll roads: extending the Suncoast Parkway to Jefferson County; extending the Southwest-Central Florida Connector from Collier County to Polk County; and extending the turnpike from Wildwood to an unknown point on the Suncoast.

Task forces convened to study all three roads reached similar conclusions. They advocated to expand current highway capacity before adding new roads.

From that, the Legislature decided to keep the turnpike extension to U.S. 19 in Citrus or Levy counties to meet up with the Suncoast. The parkway is expected to open in the coming weeks at State Road 44 in Lecanto and will continue north to U.S. 19 at Red Level near Crystal River.

State transportation officials met with Citrus County politicians during a leadership summit in January. During that meeting, the group reached an unofficial consensus that the turnpike should be built. Now they’re trying to figure out where.

Kinnard said the county and two Citrus County cities, Crystal River and Inverness, should seek public input on the proposed routes so that all three boards can reach the same conclusion when it recommends a corridor to the state.

The state has proposed four alternative corridors. Two traverse Marion and Levy counties, avoiding Citrus altogether. The other two approach parts of Inverness, Lecanto and Citrus Springs.

Kinnard said by conducting a countywide workshop in May, that will give time for the cities and various groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to seek input from their constituents. He said the goal should be to present one of the four alternatives to the Department of Transportation for consideration.

Kinnard said he is hearing from residents who wonder what the turnpike will do to their way of life.

He said: “They’re fearing this road is going to tear through their neighborhood.”

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


8 comments

  • Nancy Gomes

    February 11, 2022 at 10:37 am

    I am opposed to a Suncoast exit at CR 486. I would rather see the Suncoast continue over CR 486 with an exit in Crystal River. CR 486 has 13 traffic lights in a 12-1/2 mile stretch of road, which piles up traffic for its full length. It will only get worse with the addition of hundreds of new homes in Brentwood.

  • counts. Gazulli

    February 11, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    I live on 495 one of the 4 routes come right at my house. I want to keep my home. I just lost my husband dont want to lose my home now too. That me and my husband lived in for 25 years and watched our children grow. Leave citrus county the way it is. You are making it like all the other countys.

  • Denise Gonzalez

    February 11, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    Leave Citrus County the way it is ,the parkway would take away from the natural beauty of our communities.

  • William Young

    February 12, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Follow the money! This project is a cash cow that public officials, contractors and developers have already purchased key tracts of land. It will turn Crystal River into Spring Hill and Inverness into Brooksville. Open land north of Citrus County into Villahes type housing developments. Our Springs systems have already been damaged by development and will Die if it continues. Greed is killing this part of Florida just like it has the east Coast and south Florida. We need to stop this now. This is the year to start voting out these greedy officials and take back our communities!

  • Bob

    February 12, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    No build 🚫🤬 widen I 75 first

  • Angel Kilmer

    February 12, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    Citrus County needs to remain rural. This is the nature coast, It needs to remain the nature coast. Wildlife need their environment to live as does marine life.

  • Wayne Kilmer

    February 12, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    The Nature Coast is and has been a rural area of Florida. I believe that the Suncoast Hwy coming through is enough. US 19 in Homosassa has already become congested enough with 3 lanes through. If the parkway comes through, Citrus County will quickly become like Pasco County. Do we really want this to happen? I certainly don’t. Please consider all the negatives of this proposal of having the parkway coming through Citrus County.

  • barbara ocasio

    February 16, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    My dad is 30 year Army vet and mom moved her after looking in 2 different states. They found their dream land and after looking at hundreds of home plans, picked out dream home. They thought this would be their last move until Father God takes them to their final home. My autistic daughter was physically abused in orlando, so we moved close to grandma and grandpa, their home was her safe haven. Now she has two safe places to be. Citrus Springs needs to be left alone. So many new homes being built here. So many roads need to be upgrade not add new ones to turn Citrus County into a California highway. This is just sickening. we are one family, This is going to affect thousands of families! STop , just stop taking peoples homes away.

Comments are closed.


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