PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — After decades of disputes and delays, a sign of progress for a major roadway expansion in Pasco County.
Part of the Ridgeway Road Extension is expected to open to drivers in the coming days.
The Ridge Road Extension connects Moon Lake Road to the Suncoast Parkway and eventually will continue on to U.S. 41.
But will it make your drive any easier?
The project is far from finished. However, the opening of the nearly four-mile section next week is expected to ease some congestion.
“We’ve really broken down the project and focused in these areas to try to provide the maximum benefit to the citizens as quickly as possible,” Project Manager Sam Beneck said.
The road encountered decades of delays as the county battled various stakeholders over the design and environmental impacts.
“We had lawsuits from various groups trying to block the road,” said Kathryn Starkey, Chair of the Pasco County Commission.
News Channel 8 got a behind-the-scenes look as transportation leaders prepare to open two of the four lanes of the ridge road extension, from Moon Lake Road to the Suncoast Parkway.
During the drive, county officials pointed out bridges, fences, and wildlife crossings to help wildlife safely move around.
“We were able to reduce the wetland impacts in the preserve area by almost 80%,” Beneck said.
Once complete, the project is expected to help connect the county from east to west to ease traffic and congestion.
“It is essential for east-west traffic in a county that’s expected to exceed 1 million people soon,” said Starkey.
There’s still more work to go before drivers notice the full impact.
“It will probably take us to about 2025 before we’re open all the way to 41,” Beneck said, who pointed out that Pasco County the county still needs to raise money to finish the roadway all the way to U.S. 41.
In the meantime, work will continue on the two remaining lanes between Mook Lake Road and the Suncoast Parkway, as well as some of the bridges and ramps, which are expected to open in 2022.
The goal is for the entire project to be completed by 2025.
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