NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A Pasco County resident asked a roomful of citizens at a Tuesday commission meeting to stand if they were their to discuss a proposed toll road through their area. Most of the attendees stood, about 50 people in all.
Those residents, many of whom have joined a movement called Pasco Fiasco, filled the meeting and got their turn to speak out.
"It's totally unacceptable," one woman said. "I can't live under the shadow of a bridge."
This group came in opposition to a proposed elevated toll road that would run along the State Road 54/56 corridor.
Some say the $2 billion, privately-funded toll road is the best option for a growing county with mounting traffic problems.
"If you are looking at State Road 54, it's not going to remain the same. We are going to have to either increase it outward or upward. The question is what would be the most violable solution," said Pasco County spokesman Doug Tobin.
But residents who live in communities up and down S.R. 54 said this is not the solution. In their opinion, it would bring down property values, businesses and their quality of life.
"There are just so many options available for us to address traffic in Pasco County. An elevated toll road? We need that like a hole in the head," said another resident. "Just forget it."
The Florida Department of Transportation has the final say on the project. It would start with a segment from the Suncoast Parkway to I-75, but only if county leaders and citizens are behind it.
"We do appreciate the citizens' comments today. We wrote them down and will look at those and see if there is any alternative," Tobin said.
There are three meetings planned this summer to gauge public opinion on the project.