Earlier this week, the Citrus County Commission unanimously instructed County staff to prepare a “No Build” resolution opposing each of the Northern Turnpike Extension routes through Citrus County (e.g. Alternative Corridor Central and Southern, the purple and yellow routes). The Citrus Commissioners also voiced support for opposing the Alternative Corridor North B (the Blue Route).

This is the biggest win yet in the effort to stop the construction of the Northern Turnpike Extension, which would bisect existing conservation lands such as SWFWMD owned conservation lands, family farms and ranches, historic Black communities, and jeopardize our aquifer, rivers, lakes, and the Outstanding Florida Springs of the Homosassa River, Crystal River, and Rainbow River.

For the second time this year, a diverse group of local residents teamed up with members of the No Roads to Ruin Coalition to fill the Citrus County Commission chambers and speak in a unified voice against these unnecessary and irresponsible roads. The pictures don’t do the massive grassroots showing justice for how Citrus residents packed the chamber to make it clear that NO ONE wants the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension. Most of the time there was only standing room for many and public comment lasted for more than 2 hours. Thank you for everyone who has written, called and showed up to convince the Citrus County Commission to support the No Build option for the Northern Turnpike Extension through Citrus County. We are eternally grateful for the residents who came to voice their concerns. Those whose homes are in the proposed pathway are the most impacted and shared with their commissioners stories that pulled at the heartstrings. Special shout out to the folks from the Pine Ridge Property Owner’s Association who at the very onset helped set the tone with well-coordinated fact-driven arguments and the residents of Hernando’s Black community who shared on this would be yet another example of environmental racism on a Historic Black community. Citrus resident Gina Howe while also representing Citrus County Airboat Alliance delivered copies of the 2,000 plus petition signatures collected from Citrus residents opposing the Northern Turnpike Extension (Note: more than 4,000 petition signatures have been collected for the Citrus petition but not all are residents of Citrus County but will be delivered to state leaders such as the Governor at the appropriate time).

The No Roads to Ruin Coalition was well represented with partner organizations both local to Citrus and those with a statewide presence. Showing up for the No Build cause during this meeting and before from our Coalition included: Sally McDavid (Florida Forever Backcountry Horseman), Gina Howe (Citrus County Airboat Alliance), Maxine Connor (League of Women Voters), Eugene Kelly (Florida Native Plant Society), DeeVon Quirlos (Sierra Club’s local Adventure Coast group and Nature Coast Conservation), Dan Hilliard (Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration, Inc.), Frank Kapocsi (Homosassa River Alliance), Kim Dinkins (Save the Manatee Club), Burt Eno (Rainbow River Conservation), Elise Bennett (Center for Biological Diversity), Kristin Rubin and Jim Tatum (Our Santa Fe River), Ryan Smart and Brenda Wells (Florida Springs Council), and Michael McGrath and Cris Costello (Sierra Club Florida).

A special thanks to our partners Save the Manatee Club, Florida Wildlife Federation, Progress Florida, Florida Conservation Voters, Florida Springs Council, and Sierra Club Florida for funding the purchase of a half-page ad that ran for four days prior to this public workshop in the Citrus County Chronicle that alerted readers and residents to email their Commissioners and attend this event.

To date, local governments and the Southwest Florida Water Management District have voiced their opposition to this new toll road proposal. The Southwest Florida Water Management District has objected to each of the proposed routes in a letter dated February 14, 2022, addressed to the Director of the Turnpike Enterprise: “Any option that would bisect District-owned conservation lands or sever District lands from other existing conservation lands would be inconsistent with the original intent behind the use of taxpayer dollars to acquire those conservation lands.” The Citrus Board of County Commissioners will soon be joining the Levy Board of County Commissioners, the Dunnellon City Council, the Inverness City Council, the Inglis Town Commission, and the Yankeetown Council, all of which have all already passed “No Build” resolutions to the proposed routes of the Northern Turnpike Extension and which will ultimately influence FDOT and the Florida Turnpike Enterprises final decision.

We will continue working alongside local residents and our No Roads to Ruin partners to assist Citrus County in passing a strong “No-Build” resolution, urge other local governments to follow suit, and ensure that the Florida Department of Transportation respects the decisions of these communities.

Earned media coverage:

Citrus County Chronicle | BOCC rejects turnpike routes through Citrus by Mike Bates

Florida Politics | No turnpike through Citrus County, Commissioners say by Mike Wright

Photos from the event: