Ralph Massullo secures $83M for Citrus, Hernando projects in state budget

At the top of the list is $20.7 million to upgrade Turkey Oak Drive near Crystal River.

Lecanto Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo sought more than $80 million in funding for projects in Citrus and Hernando counties, and he got nearly all of it.

Massullo’s largest request was $20.7 million for upgrades to Turkey Oak Drive, a Citrus County road east of Crystal River that connects State Road 44 to U.S. 19.

According to the appropriations request, filed on behalf of the city government, Crystal River “is in the crosshairs of the soon to be open Suncoast Parkway which will be the cause for a tremendous amount of through traffic within the City.”

“Our goal is to become a walkable community which will not be possible with the existing and new traffic from the Parkway,” it continues.

Budget writers fully funded the project, which accounts for nearly a quarter of the $83.7 million in local projects Massullo was successful in getting into the $112 billion budget plan.

The next largest are a pair of environmental projects to remove Lyngbya and plant eel grass. He requested $4 million for King’s Bay and the same amount for the Homosassa River. Both projects overshot the ask and were funded at $10 million. A separate appropriation for the Kings Bay River Walk also snagged $3 million in the budget.

They were followed by a fully funded $9.2 million request to complete the first phase of a multi-use path on Fort Island Trail between U.S. 19 and Fort Island Gulf Beach. This section would connect to the Three Sisters Springs Path in Crystal River.

Massullo was also successful in landing another $7.1 million for a project in Crystal River, this one requested by the Citrus County Commission.

According to the request, the cash will be used to extend a runway at the Crystal River Airport by 645 feet so it can accommodate larger aircraft — $1.8 million will be used to buy land, $500,000 will pay for design work, and the remaining $4.8 million will be used for construction.

Another water project in Massullo’s portfolio would clean up the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes in Citrus County by removing tussocks and nitrogen- and phosphorus-containing sediment from the lake beds. A description of the project’s potential upside was delightfully succinct: “The fisheries may become famous again.”

It received the full $4.25 million that Massullo requested. Of that, $350,000 will be used for project administration, accounting and public information. The remaining $3.9 million would cover contracted sediment and harvesting services.

Overall, Massullo sponsored $82 million in local projects and all but two were at least partially funded. The whiffs were a $12.5 million ask for a construction project at Pasco-Hernando State College and $1 million to expand Inverness’ municipal water infrastructure.

Massullo is currently in his third term representing House District 34, which covers all of Citrus County and part of Hernando County. Though eligible to run for another term in the House, he announced earlier this year that he would instead run for the Senate.

He has since amassed about $2 million for his campaign, including $1.5 million in candidate loans.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


2 comments

  • Rick Kells

    March 13, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Well sure the good ol’ boy network got the money for the runway.
    Funny how they turn a blind eye to complaints. What happens to the homeowners that lose egress to their property.
    Gee, ya think QUESTIONS would be addressed.

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    March 13, 2022 at 2:27 pm

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