After a long wait, the first phase of the Ridge Road Extension in Pasco County is open.
The 4.2-mile stretch connecting Moon Lake Road to the Suncoast Parkway officially opened for drivers on Friday. The inaugural day of service comes after 20 years of waits for permits, political and legal opposition, and a two-year construction project.
The extension is expected to increase access to the county and create a more robust network of roads in the community.
“This much-needed east-west roadway will help reduce traffic on other thoroughfares in Pasco County and will also serve as a critical evacuation route during hurricanes,” said Kathryn Starkey, county board chair, in an emailed statement. “We’re thrilled it’s finally open.”
The project aims to significantly reduce wetlands impact within the Serenova Preserve, and officials say it will reduce evacuation time from the county’s coastal evacuation zone by six hours.
The Ridge Road Extension currently has two lanes of traffic — one eastbound and one westbound — open for use. Two additional lanes, northern access ramps and a pedestrian trail are all slated to open in the fall of 2022.