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Big suits see start of sewer project

Hernando County commissioners and business bigwigs don't typically show up for sewer line installation projects, but this job is a bit different.

That's why a handful of business and government leaders bedecked in coats and ties joined rough-hewn construction workers on the western side of U.S. 19 on Friday to mark the official start of construction on nearly three miles of county water and sewer lines.

During the next several weeks, Walbridge Contracting of Tampa will be deep into digging and installing the $624,500 worth of water and sewer lines. The lines will extend from Northcliffe Boulevard south to Sealawn Boulevard and eventually will tie in with Southern States Utilities Service's regional sewer treatment plant on Osowaw Boulevard.

Lykes Development Corp., which wants to develop a 400-acre residential project known as River Pines near Weeki Wachee, is paying $250,000 toward the project. The county is paying for the rest.

County officials and business leaders have said the new lines will open up western U.S. 19 to new businesses. Already at least one new restaurant is being planned because of the sewer and water capacity.

Officials also have said that by connecting to the lines, existing businesses on the western side of U.S. 19 will save money in the long run because many of them need septic tank and private water line repairs.

"We'll save businesses along here a ton of money," said County Commission Chairman John Richardson.

The sewer and water line work, which the county has been planning for five years or more, is expected to be completed in July.

"If I could have gotten a hold of them, I would have had my whole board (of directors) out here," Hal Robinson, executive director of the Greater West Hernando Chamber of Commerce, said at the groundbreaking.