Construction resumes on Suncoast Parkway

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Construction is moving forward on the Suncoast Parkway in Citrus County after being temporarily blocked by a federal judge blocked last month

Those who opposed the extension project are disappointed to see the work resume. 

It’s the spot in Citrus County where construction of a highway for the future is colliding with a connection to the past. It’s the spot where the town of Etna once stood.

The town was a turpentine camp where workers tapped the tall slash pine trees to make turpentine that was used for everything from naval stores, to lamp lighting, to medicine.

The population of 200 was mostly African American. Some were freed slaves, others were indentured servants or jail prisoners.

They all worked.

“It was the hard-working, subsistence living, people that were striving just to survive and now we’re just trying to wipe that out,” said John Wade, of Friends of Etna Turpentine Camp.

The group was happy when a federal judge halted construction of the Suncoast 2 highway last month, but the order ran out yesterday.

Now machines are clearing the woods not far from Etna.

“If we wipe out our history, what are we going to have left?” asked Wade.

One of Etna’s large turpentine stills found in the woods will be moved to a location in Brooksville, but Wade fears when the land is lost, an important piece of history will be gone too.

“They could have gone a quarter of a mile that way and avoided this totally, but it was cheaper and easier to run over history,” said Wade, looking across the woods that was once Etna.

Many drivers maintain the area needs new roads more than anything else.