PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Ridge Road Extension is moving forward in Pasco County. The project is set to give families another much-needed hurricane evacuation route and way to get more easily from New Port Richey to Land O’Lakes.
The construction on the first phase of the extension began in 2019. That’s when Ryan Becwar, a neighbor who supports the project, told us he remembers hearing talk of extending Ridge Road when he was in high school.
“I was completely shocked and surprised after so many years it was such a relief that 'hey, this thing is going to go through,'” Becwar said in 2019.
Becwar is part of the Citizens for The Ridge Road Extension group that pushed for the project for so long. In 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finally issued the project permits and construction started.
It will take Ridge Road in New Port Richey and extend it east to the Suncoast Parkway and eventually all the way U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes.
The first phase started at the intersection of Moon Lake Road and Ridge Road and extends into and past the Rosewood community.
While much of Ridge Road remains blocked off to traffic because of construction, neighbors say it’s made progress, paving nearly all the way to the Suncoast Parkway.
Part of the reason the project took decades to become a reality were environmental concerns about what would happen to Pasco’s wetlands.
Officials say the four-lane roadway will have 16 bridges designed to maintain the habitat below.
Supporters of the project say extending Ridge Road gives the county another much-needed hurricane evacuation route, reducing evacuation times by nearly 30 percent. They say it will also help drive business, connecting New Port Richey to Land O’ Lakes and the booming Connerton area.
“It’s important for our citizens. Quality of life matters to our citizens and this is going to help make their daily commutes a little bit easier,” said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore in 2019.
The section to U.S. 41 will begin in late 2022.
FDOT is also in the process of constructing a new interchange onto the Suncoast Parkway from Ridge Road. The full interchange will provide both northbound and southbound access onto the Suncoast Parkway, providing another hurricane evacuation route.