Morse Boulevard widening champion vows to press on

Even though government officials are holding out little hope for widening Morse Boulevard from County Road 466 to El Camino Real, a Villager spearheading a recent petition effort presses on.

Sherrie Hyer
Sherrie Hyer

Villager Sherrie Hyer had delivered 1,000-plus signatures on a petition to the Sumter County Board of Commissioners last month, calling for something to be done on that stretch of Morse Boulevard.

On Tuesday, County Administrator Bradley Arnold said the widening project would have an adverse impact on wetlands at the southern end of the road and could endanger animals who live there. The project also would require an alternative drainage solution to the ditches on the sides of the current roadway.

On Friday morning, District Manager Janet Tutt delivered a similar message to Community Development District 1. She said an environmental impact study alone could cost up to $50,000.

“It looks easy, but it’s not,” Tutt said in response to critics in the community who have called for widening Morse Boulevard.

However, CDD 1 Chair Ellen Cora warned there is a “core group” of activists who “aren’t going away.”

Cora said she has pressed county commissioners on this issue.

She suggested that a bond could be floated, and shared by all of the districts, as the road is traveled by all residents of the community.

CDD 1 Supervisor Craig Estep countered that would be a “a bad investment.”

He applauded the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office for stepping up traffic enforcement on Morse Boulevard.

“It’s been very, very effective,” Estep said.

Joan Testa of the Village of Rio Ranchero said she was among those who had called for the widening of Morse Boulevard.

“I did not comprehend the complexity of it,” Testa said. “I am more than willing to eat crow.”

Hyer attended the CDD 1 meeting, but did not speak.

After the meeting, she vowed to continue her efforts.

“Something has to be done,” she said. “I don’t want to see someone else killed.”