Construction began on the Suncoast Parkway in 1998, and opened in 2001 in two stages at a cost of $507 million. The Veterans Expressway is a 57-mile transportation corridor that extends from State Road 60 in Tampa, north to U.S. Route 98 near Chassahowitzka. The Veterans Expressway was built to accommodate the increasing commuter traffic in the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area and has been planning to extend to north Florida for some time. This new route would be in improvement for daily commuters and we could benefit from it as a community. If the toll road gets expanded through Citrus County into northern Florida it would be a more proficient route for people traveling and commuting to work. This route would allow more jobs to be available to people in Citrus County, lowering our unemployment rate. Making us easier to access would also be a benefit by increasing tourism for places like Crystal River or the Everglades.
For places like this the main source of income is from the tourists and snow birds, so if we could increase the tourists places would make more money. Some people are under the impression that the Suncoast Parkway extension plan would disrupt the quiet, undisturbed sections of Citrus County and bring forth more urban sprawl to our area. The only problem with this is that there is not a big new development bringing new jobs and new people. This highway expansion would only provide more jobs for the people already living in this county, with an unemployment rate of 8.4% as of January 2013. Having this direct route to Tampa and other bigger cities would allow people to travel further in a shorter amount of time for a job. There are not enough people here to create urban sprawl and the highway is not bringing any with it.
There might be in increase in the people who travel here, having an easier route to follow and it being directly off of the highway. The amount of snowbirds that live here during the winter time will also increase as our accessibility increases. Having more job, tourists, and snowbirds for our community is not increasing urban sprawl and is more good than bad for our community. The impacted residents fear that the parkway alignments come too close to their properties and will cause excessive noise resulting in decreased property values. This is only true for the very few places that would not be close enough to the highway to buy out by the project but would be close enough to hear the steady buzz of the passing cars. Most homes would be bought for face values that reside on land that will be used to extend the toll road, making the owners very reasonable offers. The few places that are not bought by the highway are far enough away to live safely. The people who have a problem with the noise can sell their residence to people who need the access to the highway to commute or people who just don’t mind the cars. The value of homes that are not directly off the highway will increase, increasing the property values of those all around it. There will also be very little traffic sounds for nearby neighborhoods because of the cement walls that will be put up to help block the noise. The expansion of the highway through Citrus County would have an effect on not only the people living here, but the environment as well.