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Another gas pipeline proposed

If a Texas-based group wins approval, part of a new natural gas pipeline will jog through eastern Hernando County and branch northwest to Florida Crushed Stone within the next few years.

SunShine Pipeline Partners of Houston has scheduled an open house Thursday at the Hernando County Fairgrounds.

Although officials do not consider the meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. a public hearing in the traditional sense, they will answer questions about the $800-million pipeline, a portion of which would run from Orlando, through the North Suncoast and back east to Polk County.

The 798-mile project, scheduled for completion at the turn of thecentury, is sponsored by CoastalCorp. in Houston, Florida ProgressCorp. in St. Petersburg, and Trans-Canada Pipelines Ltd. in Calgary,Alberta.

Plans for the pipeline, which would begin in Mississippi, are unfinished, but the initial sense is that the pipe would bend southwest from Sumter into East Hernando, along an existing utility easement through the Withlacoochee State Forest.

Another segment would link with Florida Crushed Stone.

"There are no firm commitments yet," said Hernando County planner Jerry Grief: "The pipeline may end up just passing through the county on the east side."

The state Public Service Commission last week told the partnership that the pipeline appears to be needed. Now the group must win approval for the means of getting the gas through Hernando County.

Construction probably would not begin for at least two years.

The SunShine project is different from a proposal by the Florida Gas Transmission Co., which wants to build a $940-million pipeline from Louisiana to St. Petersburg. That line would cut through central Hernando County, through Spring Hill.

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