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Work speeds along on the northernmost extension of the Suncoast Parkway

A car drives along the Suncoast Parkway
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
There's not much traffic along the Suncoast Parkway in Citrus County

When completed, it will connect motorists from the Veteran's Parkway in Tampa to Crystal River without a stoplight.

Public comment is now being taken through March 20 on the latest extension of the Suncoast Parkway in Citrus County.

This is expected to be the final leg of the toll road, connecting State Road 44 to U.S. Highway 19, north of Crystal River.

When it's completed, this leg — called Suncoast Parkway 2 — it will allow motorists to drive from the Veteran's Parkway in Tampa to Crystal River without a stoplight.

Map of the proposed extension
Florida's Turnpike Enterprise
Map of the proposed extension

During an online information meeting Tuesday, a state Department of Transportation spokesperson said the new roadway would serve as a key evacuation route.

"Suncoast Parkway 2 will serve the future traffic needs of Citrus County, as well as the public traveling to or from the Tampa metro area to Citrus County. Although not a primary hurricane evacuation route, Suncoast Parkway 2 will also assist with evacuation and recovery in the event of a hurricane or another emergency."

The $135-million Suncoast Parkway 2 project is expected to be paid for by tolls. The last extension opened in 2022, between U.S. 98 in Hernando County and State Road 44 in Citrus County.

Anil Sharma, project manager for Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, says it is being built in several phases, from the current northern terminus at State Road 44 east of Inverness to U.S. Highway 19, north of Crystal River.

"For a project of this size, each segment is estimated to take three to four years to complete," he said.

Purchase of the right of way is expected to begin in mid 2023.

A public information session on the extension will be held Thursday, March 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Citrus County National Guard Armory, 8551 W. Venable St., Crystal River.

Schedule for construction
Florida's Turnpike Enterprise
Schedule for construction

Here's some information from Florida's Turnpike Enterprise:

The Suncoast Parkway 2 Phase 3 will be a four-lane (two lanes in each direction) toll facility that extends from CR 486 to U.S. 19, a distance of approximately 10 miles. The project will include the following:

  • Completing a full interchange at CR 486 to accommodate northbound traffic movements.
  • New interchanges at CR 495 and US 19
  • Two Electronic Tolling Collection locations
  • Related drainage, lighting, highway signing, traffic signalization, guardrails, and sidewalks
  • The continuation of the Suncoast Trail, part of Florida’s Statewide Greenways and Trails System
  • Realignment of West Dunnellon Road to allow for a new interchange at SR 589/US19
Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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