Pasco County and the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) are co-applicants for a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The purpose of the RRE project as included in the most recent USACE Public Notice for the project is: “To improve east-west roadway capacity and enhance overall mobility within the area bounded by SR-52 to the north, SR-54 to the south, US-41 to the east and Moon Lake Road, Decubellis Road, Starkey Boulevard to the west in accordance with the County’s current Comprehensive Plan and the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan. The project will also provide additional roadway capacity and improved routing away from coastal hazard areas and improve hurricane evacuation clearance times in the event of a hurricane or other major weather-related occurrence in accordance with State of Florida requirements and the County’s current Comprehensive Plan.”
- Project Purpose: To improve east-west roadway capacity and enhance overall mobility within the area bounded by SR-52 to the north, SR-54 to the south, US-41 to the east and Moon Lake Road, Decubellis Road, Starkey Boulevard to the west in accordance with the County’s current Comprehensive Plan and the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan. The project will also provide additional roadway capacity and improved routing away from coastal hazard areas and improve hurricane evacuation clearance times in the event of a hurricane or other major weather-related occurrence in accordance with State of Florida requirements and the County’s current Comprehensive Plan.
- Pasco County has only two east/west evacuation routes, State Roads 54 and 52.
- Either State Road can be and frequently have been closed due to accidents, police activity, utility leaks, etc. SR 54 has been historically vulnerable to flooding.
- State Roads are approximately 9 miles apart, whereas 1 mile spacing is required by County Land Development Code to provide efficient access and traffic mobility.
- Pasco County has 178,000 residents (or nearly 38% of County residents) living in evacuation zones within two miles of Ridge Road.
- During a major storm event, Pinellas County residents will also flee using northbound routes through Pasco County. High winds may require all bridges out of Pinellas to be closed.
- January 1992, Serenova Development of Regional Impact (DRI) approved. Roadway plan included construction of Ridge Road Extension. Described in detail in “Previously Approved Serenova DRI”.
- August 1994, Final Environmental Impact Statement for Suncoast Parkway Phase 1 completed including overpass for Ridge Road Extension.
- 1997, agreements are executed by Pasco County, SWFWMD, and FDOT preserving ROW for RRE in the Serenova Preserve.
- 1998, County submitted a permit application to SWFWMD and USACE.
- 2000, USACE issued the first Public Notice.
- 2003, SWFWMD issued an ERP for the RRE project.
- May 31, 2011, at the request of USACE, the County and FTE submitted a new joint application for the RRE.
- November 28, 2011, the USACE published a public notice for the RRE based on the resubmitted application.
- July 23, 2012, the USACE issued a Request for Additional Information (RAI) letter to Pasco County.
- December 2013, the County submitted a response to this request.
- August 7, 2013, the SWFWMD issued a Modification to the ERP for the RRE project.
- March 6, 2014, the USACE requested that the County prepare an expanded Alternatives Analysis for 16 USACE defined build alternatives.
- April 2015, the co-applicants filed the requested comprehensive alternatives analysis.
- April 2017, USACE made a preliminary determination that the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) is modified Alternative 7, the applicants’ revised preferred alternative.
- May 2017, USACE issued an RAI with questions focused on the apparent LEDPA.
- May 2017 to Present: Described in detail in “Coordination and Current Activities”.
Given this preliminary determination, the co-applicants have developed a detailed project management plan for completing the remaining requirements for USACE to conclude its review and reach a final permit decision. This plan is updated monthly to reflect actual progress. As the plan is based on best possible estimates of activity duration it is subject to change. The plan currently anticipates a permit decision by the USACE in late Summer 2019. The most recent version is attached.
The 2015 Alternatives Analysis assessed 18 scenarios including no build/no action. The County’s preferred alternative, Modified Alternative 7, was determined by the USACE to be the apparent LEDPA. Modified Alternative 7 provides a 6.6 hour improvement in evacuation time (28%) versus the no build/no action alternative. The scenarios accessed and methodologies for assessment were approved by the USACE prior to the completion of the study. A summary table of the Alternatives Analysis is attached.
Previously Approved Serenova DRI
- A Development of Regional Impact (DRI) was approved by DCA, RPC & Pasco in Jan 1992.
- This property was purchased by FDOT as wetland impact compensation / mitigation for impacts of the Suncoast Parkway and associated projects. This property is now known as Serenova Preserve.
- Agreements were executed by Pasco County, SWFWMD, and FDOT that preserved ROW for Ridge Road Extension through the Serenova Preserve.
- The Conservation Easement which defines the Serenova Preserve lists the Ridge Road Extension as an exception. The Serenova DRI included Ridge Road Extension to support development.
- Entitlements prior to preservation included:
6,481 residential units
279.1 acres of retail development
154.6 acres of office development
244.5 acres of industrial development
Several public facilities