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DOT drives road plans forward

The state Department of Transportation plans to pump more than $4-million into Citrus road resurfacing projects this year.

Meanwhile, it is looking ahead to the possible widening of U.S. 41 and State Road 200 toward the end of this century.

And the county tentatively has decided to change its road priorities by dropping plans for a proposed $6-million link between W Fort Island Trail and County Road 486.

Here are details of the various road projects:

Resurfacing: Most of the state resurfacing work this year is planned for U.S. 19.

Sunshine Materials Inc., the company that bought out Carroll Contracting last year, has been awarded a $1.8-million contract to resurface 9.5 miles of U.S. 19 from NW Seventh Avenue in Crystal River to the Levy County line.

John Bordeaux, Sunshine president, said work probably will begin in mid-July and take six or seven months. Traffic will be able to continue in both directions throughout the work, he said.

DOT is soliciting bids to resurface the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 from W Fort Island Trail south to the Hernando County line. The bids are scheduled to be received in July, with an expected project cost of about $2-million.

On the east side of the county, U.S. 41 will be resurfaced from County Road 48 in Floral City south to the Hernando County line. Sunshine has submitted the lowest bid for the 6 miles of work, at $842,000.

Bordeaux said a final decision on who will do the project is expected in the next few weeks, with construction likely to begin in August and last four to five months.

While the rest of U.S. 19 is being resurfaced, the city of Crystal River will be widening the highway to six lanes between State Road 44 and W Fort Island Trail. City Manager Merv Waldrop said bids are being solicited and the project will be awarded in August.

Construction is expected to take at least eight months, he said.

As a condition of its development agreement, the developer of the Crystal River Mall will pay for the $1-million project.

DOT also is scheduled to construct left turn lanes on U.S. 41 at Gobbler Drive. Bids are to be received in July. The estimated cost is $155,000.

Highway widenings: DOT will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. June 28 in the County Commission chambers to present information on the long-range plans for U.S. 41 from Inverness to the Marion County line.

DOT spokesman Steve Homan said his agency is doing a preliminary engineering study to determine if the road needs to be improved or widened. Early findings will be presented at the meeting. DOT will listen to ideas on its report, then hold public hearings on its proposed plan at the end of this year.

Homan said DOT's five-year work plan does not include any money for designing or constructing improvements to U.S. 41. A preliminary engineering study to consider the possible widening of U.S. 41 from SR 44 East to CR 48 is scheduled for the 1995 fiscal year.

Connector road dropped: Last week, at the suggestion of county staff, the County Commission tentatively agreed to drop the proposed $6-million road that would have linked W Fort Island Trail (County Road 44 W) to SR 44 at its intersection with CR 486.

"We haven't spent a lot of money on it, but we were getting ready to," Assistant County Administrator Steve Wylie said.

The county had not purchased any right of way for the project but had begun making offers to landowners.

The route would have required the county to buy vacant lots in the Crystal River village subdivision, a plan that was not popular with the subdivision's developer or several condominium owners who would have been cut off from the rest of the development.

Wylie said the project had been left out of the five-year capital improvements plan because there was not enough money to pay for all the roads that had been proposed.

He told commissioners last week that the era of "overpromising" and "underproducing" is over.

Wylie said that while it might be nice to join W Fort Island Trail to CR 486, it is not necessary because other roads in the area have been or will be widened.

"Conditions have improved on State Road 44 and they will be improved on U.S. 19 northbound" from W Fort Island Trail, he said.

West Citrus Traffic Reliever: Last week, the commission also agreed to get an appraisal of a strip of land owned by Florida Power Corp. The company has offered to sell the county the 10,000-foot strip for $110,000.

The land may eventually be used for the West Citrus Traffic Reliever, a controversial project that has been on hold for several years but never killed. The road would provide a new north-south route east of U.S. 19 from Homosassa to Red Level. Construction of a two-lane road will cost about $12-million, engineering director Jeffrey Ketteler has estimated.

County officials say the land also might be suitable for construction of a Citrus leg of the proposed North Suncoast Corridor, a planned toll road that is expected to be constructed from Hillsborough to Hernando counties at the end of this decade.

County Attorney Larry Haag told commissioners that Florida Power was offering the land at a good price.

"This is the best price this board will ever see as far as right of way," he said.

Technical Services Director Jim Pinkerton called it "an excellent investment."

The county opened negotiations with Florida Power Corp. last year, fearing that the land could fall into the hands of a company that wants to build a natural gas pipeline through Citrus.

Road projects for 1993

U.S. 19

1 Levy County line to NW 7th Avenue in Crystal River: DOT plans to resurface this year.

2 State Road 44 to W Fort Island Trail: The city of Crystal River plans to widen. Construction expected to begin in August.

3 W Fort Island Trail to Hernando County line: DOT plans to resurface this year.

West Citrus Traffic

Reliever/North Suncoast Corridor

4 The county plans this year to purchase a 10,000 foot strip of right-of-way between County Road 488 and County Road 495. The land may eventually be used to construct either the West Citrus Traffic Reliever or the North Suncoast Corridor.

State Road 44

5 The widening project between Inverness and Crystal River continues. Currently under construction is the Inverness segment.

U.S. 41

6 County Road 48 south to the Hernando County line: DOT plans to resurface this year.

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