Florida Turnpike Enterprise pulled its plans for the extension of the Suncoast Parkway into Citrus County out of mothballs in 2015.
For Citrus business leaders, who have long seen the highway as a promise of economic boon, the move brought optimism that the crippling housing bust and the blow from the closure of the Duke Energy nuclear power plant could be overcome and replaced with new prosperity.
But for some residents of the county, many of whom have fought the extension for two decades, news that the $256.7 million project was back in active mode was devastating.
In June, hundreds of residents attended a public meeting to hear a presentation on what is known as Suncoast 2. The name refers to the extension of the parkway to State Road 44 near Lecanto. The plan is to build it in two sections simultaneously.
Ultimately, the original plan was to then take the road to U.S. 19 north of Crystal River. But some theorize the final destination instead will be Jacksonville.
Opponents argue that there is not enough traffic to justify the expense and that the road will take a piece of the Withlacoochee State Forest, will destroy the remains of the Etna Turpentine Camp, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and will cause noise problems for nearby communities, including Sugarmill Woods.
The state is working to acquire the right of way for the project, and construction could start as early as this year.
Barbara Behrendt, Times staff