Happy Monday! Pull up a chair.
Today we introduce you to SCOP. Say it out loud. Sounds like “stop.” SCOP. As in, SCOP roads.
SCOP stands for Small Counties Outreach Program. No one in the government calls it that. It’s just SCOP.
SCOP is a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, or FDOT (F-D-O-T, or F-Dot, your preference), that pays 75% of local road resurfacing projects.
Citrus County has come to rely on SCOP grants to repave secondary roads at all corners.
What SCOP doesn’t do:
— Resurface neighborhood roads. Too bad, because that would certainly come in handy. Oh well.
— Resurface state roads. U.S. 41, U.S. 98, U.S. 19, S.R. 44, and S.R. 200 are all under the state’s exclusive oversight.
SCOP doesn’t cover all the county roads outside those two categories, but just about. Name a road that folks drive on to get from one place to another and it’s likely eligible for SCOP.
Citrus always landed in good shape for SCOP funding because of the population ceiling which, until recently, was 150,000. Seems just as Citrus reached that plateau the state upped the population max to 200,000.
That means Citrus remains the only county in our FDOT district eligible for SCOP funding.
As you can see, though, we’re on the clock. According to the U.S. Census, Citrus’ population hit 150,000 in 2019. Two years later, it’s 158,083 — a 5% jump. Remember, SCOP ends at 200,000. After that, barring more changes to the law, Citrus is totally on its own in repaving our secondary streets.
So it’s a reasonable question to ask: With a population ceiling in our future, ending this 75/25 split that saves the county millions of dollars, shouldn’t we have a conversation today about how to prioritize these projects?
Or, said a less boring way…well, actually there isn’t. Sorry. It’s government stuff.
A few months ago the county, at my request, sent me the SCOP project list going back to 2018 and looking ahead to 2028. Two caught my eye.
Gospel Island Road, a thoroughfare so vital Commissioner Jeff Kinnard is pushing for a traffic signal at S.R. 44, is in terrible shape yet somehow not repaved until 2027.
Also, Dunklin Avenue, between Citrus Avenue and Citrus Springs Boulevard, is truly hideous. Oddly, it was on the list for 2028 but the county now says it will be included in funding this year.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s county commission agenda has FDOT contracts for two SCOP projects: Trails End Road in Floral City and Withlacoochee Trail (C.R. 39) near Dunnellon.
I drove both in the last few days.
Trails End Road (today’s photo) is a gorgeous stretch of country lane between Withlapopka Isles and C.R. 48 east of Floral City. But I seriously question how it’s even on the list. While, sure, it has its spots here and there, Trails End is an extremely local road. It’s used either to go home or someone like me, out for a pleasurable drive.
County traffic counts say 1,200 cars a day, though that seems a stretch.
Withlacoochee Trail (C.R. 39) is in decent shape. Not sure what the issue here is, except we repaved the section adjacent to it last year. Low traffic as well: 2,100 cars a day.
Both Gospel Island and Dunklin each have about 4,000 cars a day. Just sayin’.
Plus, here are some roads not on the five-year repaving list (and should be):
—C.R. 491 between C.R. 486 and Beverly Hills
— Maylen Avenue
— Stage Coach Trail (C.R. 480)
— C.R. 581
— Orange Avenue (that’s a whole other problem).
Look. I’m not getting down on the county staff for the list. I’m only suggesting that as we focus on our transportation issues we don’t forget about this significant cost-saving program.
SCOP is our friend. Let’s take good care of it.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.