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Planners reconsider widening Croft

County planners have suggested building a north-south connector road between State Road 44 and County Road 486 just west of Inverness.

Croft Avenue now connects those highways, but Croft is buckling under the pressure. Indeed, the county had planned to widen Croft from two to four lanes in 2005 to handle traffic flow.

Because that plan would disrupt several property owners, county officials propose moving half a mile west, where right of way is easier to find and costs generally are lower.

County staff has estimated that the new road would cost $6.8-million to build, compared with $11.3-million to widen Croft.

Why would the Croft option cost so much? Litigation and acquiring right of way would run more than $3-million (about twice as much as building the new road) and construction costs would be $2.3-million more to widen Croft compared to building a new road.

"It should be noted that any new route or road widening will always have an impact on some of the residents," the county's engineering chief Chris Karr wrote in a recent memo. "The challenge is to find a route that is economically feasible and results in the least impact to the residents."

The new road would be two lanes with dedicated turn lanes at CR 486 and SR 44. It would share an SR 44 median cut with the new, large retail store now scheduled to be built just west of the Don Olsen tire store.

A public information and comment meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 21 at the Lecanto Government Building, 3600 W Sovereign Path. A public workshop is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. June 23 at the same place.

For the first meeting, the county will notify all property owners whose land is within 300 feet of the proposed right of way.