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Road planners to share vision

(ran PW, PS editions)

Although the no-man's land between the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 41 is still mostly pasture and woods, Pasco County transportation planners envision a future heavier on concrete than critters.

At a public workshop scheduled for Tuesday at the Land O'Lakes Community Center, planners will present maps outlining their projected road network west of U.S. 41.

The proposed roads on the maps include Ridge Road Extension, running west to east between Moon Lakes Road and U.S. 41, and Vision Road, a north-south highway linking state roads 54 and 52 east of the Suncoast Parkway.

"We just want to show the public what our dream plan is," transportation planner Manny Lajmiri said. "If there's any other ideas out there, we'd like to collect them."

The territory east of the Suncoast Parkway is mostly ranch land speckled with cypress heads. But developers, encouraged in part by the opening next year of the three-county toll road, are expected to swallow much of that land.

Oakstead, a development of 1,200 homes, plans to break ground this year on 841 acres between SR 54 and Lake Patience Road. US Homes has proposed developing Oakstead's neighbor to the west, the LeDantec property.

The sprawling Bexley Ranch, which fills thousands of acres between U.S. 41 and the parkway, is still pastoral. But the Bexleys' decision to yield right of way for Ridge Road Extension has raised speculation that development isn't far off.

Transportation planners have strived to stay one step ahead of the development. But in planning the roads, they want input from the public, including landowners, developers and environmentalists. The workshop is scheduled for 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Those unable to make the meeting can leave their comments with county planners at (727) 847-8140.

"Basically we really don't have a road network in that area," Lajmiri said. "For other places we've figured out our road needs. This is still a gray area."

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