Florida Turnpike extension could bring benefit to Lake Panasoffkee

A municipal sewer system for the Lake Panasoffkee area could be a result of a state effort to extend the Florida Turnpike.

Commissioner Doug Gilpin suggested the project at a meeting Tuesday of the Sumter County Board of Commissioners. Lake Panasoffkee is in the southwest portion of Sumter County.

The county is participating in the state’s project dubbed M-CORES (Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance).

M-CORES involves more than just a proposed 40-mile turnpike extension, said County Administrator Bradley Arnold. Project goals also include connecting rural communities, creating jobs, conserving wildlife and addressing water and sewer issues.

Gilpin said the Lake Panasoffkee area has municipal water but no sewer system. Runoff from septic tanks contributes to weed infestation in the lake, he said.

“I would like to have consensus to pursue a strategy for a sewer system at Lake Panasoffkee,” he said.

Chairman Steve Printz said the sewer system could fit into state priorities of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Printz said the governor has proposed fines or other penalties for homeowners who refuse to hook up to a municipal sewer system if it is available.

The M-CORES project, which extends to 2030, is focused on three study areas. Sumter County is in the Northern Turnpike area. Other areas are the Suncoast Corridor along the Gulf Coast and the Southwest-Central Florida Corridor south of Interstate 4 to the Everglades.

The turnpike extension is among plans for more than 300 miles of new turnpike roads endorsed last year by the state legislature. The northern extension would connect to the Suncoast Parkway, which would extend 150 miles north to the Georgia border. A new turnpike also has been proposed from Polk County to Collier County in southwest Florida.

Estimated to cost $100 million a year, the projects will be funded by the sale of revenue bonds, the State Transportation Trust Fund and loans from the Florida Department of Transportation Financing Corporation.