Bilirakis to Trump: Make Ridge Road a priority
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, whose 12th Congressional district includes all of Pasco County, has a message for President Donald Trump: Please make the Ridge Road Extension a federal priority.
Bilirakis released a letter to the president Thursday morning, citing Trump’s executive order to expedite environmental reviews of high priority infrastructure projects. The Ridge Road Extension meets that criteria, Bilirakis said, because of its importance as an planned evacuation route during tropical storm events. He noted Hurricane Hermine damaged more than 2,600 properties in Pasco County with damage estimates listed at $89 million.
Pasco County first applied for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer environmental permit for the road project in 1998, reworked it in 2000, but later withdrew that application and resubmitted a new request in 2015. The planned eight-mile highway is suppose to link Ridge Road in the Moon Lake area to the Suncoast Parkway and eventually U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes
The multi-lane highway is projected to cost $102 million and would be elevated through portions of the 6,700-acre Serenova Preserve. The county has set aside more than $40 million to pay for the first phase of the road, from west Pasco to the Suncoast Parkway. Since 2014, the county has paid Washington D.C.-based Dawson & Associates $1.1 million to rewrite the permit application. The overall tab to the county for consultants and right of way is more than $17 million over the past two decades.
Environmentalists object to the road’s construction, saying it would damage the preserve, which was acquired by the Florida Department of Transportation as mitigation for Suncoast Parkway construction,
Here is the full text of the letter from Bilirakis: