Environmental group sues to halt Pasco County’s Ridge Road Extension project

The Sierra Club filed an Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order to halt the Section 404 Permit.

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click to enlarge Environmental group sues to halt Pasco County’s Ridge Road Extension project
Photo via Save Our Serenova/Facebook


The Sierra Club is suing to halt the controversial Ridge Road Extension, which environmentalists say will likely disrupt 6,533-acres of fragile wetlands in Pasco County.

On Friday, Feb. 6, the Sierra Club filed an Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order to halt the Section 404 Permit that recently allowed construction to begin in the Serenova Preserve wetlands.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, argues that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to properly consider the environmental impact of the bridge because they used outdated surveys, and that construction workers were spotted removing protected gopher tortoises from the site.

According to Heidi Mehaffey, who is representing the Sierra Club, the “ACOE failed to adequately look at direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the environment contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act and neglected to choose the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative (LEDPA) under the Clean Water Act, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relied on outdated surveys, 7 years outdated to be exact, for determining the impact on endangered and threatened species and wetland habitats when there was no effort to collect reliable and present day data in complete contradiction to the spirit of these environmental laws.” 

The Ridge Road extension project, which has been in the works for nearly two decades, aims to extend Ridge Road in New Port Richey to the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes. The first phase of construction, which would link the road from New Port Richey to the Suncoast Parkway, began last week. The extension to U.S. 41 would begin in late 2022.

“I find the Corps’ decision to issue the permit indefensible,” said conservation biologist Reed F. Noss, in a statement. “This project, if implemented, will cause severe impacts and irreparable harm to one of the most biologically significant natural areas in west-central Florida. It would likely preclude regional recovery, and perhaps cause regional extinction, of some species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, as well as leading to the decline of other native species (many of them already rare) and compromising the ecological functions of the wetland and upland ecosystems of the Serenova Tract.”

Supporters of the project claim the Ridge Road extension would reduce Pasco county’s Hurricane evacuation times by 30% and help the county’s businesses.

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