Build the roads and they will come. Indeed they will with ripped up wetlands and millions of square feet of asphalt and concrete: motels, bars, gas stations, fast food, strip malls, new housing developments and millions of people.
What we have here are a few men in power kowtowing to a few others who are poised to get richer and take away more of the very little we have left of rural Florida.
Life is not fair, and we see that here. Studies have been made, polls have been taken and the people have already said they prefer to build in current road corridors and raise bridges instead of tearing up the countryside building new ones.
Hopes that our new governor might care about the environment in which we all live are now dashed. Because of the furor in South Florida over red tide and green algae, he throws out a few bones and makes a small splash by firing some water board members as scapegoats, things any politician must do while making a grand entry.
But when it comes to standing up to political power, industry and the money lobbyists, things that matter in the long run to his political career, he goes with the money and the power backers.
Read the original article here in the Gainesville Sun.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
DeSantis signs toll roads bill
Governor sided with Senate President Bill Galvano Friday, saying he believes Florida’s road network needs to expand
By Zac Anderson
Gov. Ron DeSantis has tried to build a reputation as the “green governor” as he works to tackle the state’s water quality problems, but that image could be diminished after DeSantis signed a toll road bill Friday that is loathed by environmentalists.
Dubbed by one environmental advocate as the worst piece of legislation in decades, the toll road bill was the top priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who argues the three new highways are needed to address the state’s growth.
DeSantis sided with Galvano over the environmental community Friday, saying he believes Florida’s road network needs toexpand.
“I think we need new roads in Florida to get around,” DeSantis said Friday after an
In this May 4 photo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, is applauded by Senate president Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, left, at the end of session in Tallahassee [STEVE CANNON/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/ FILE]
event in Sarasota where he signed a bill making texting while driving a primary offense.
DeSantis signed the bill an hour later during a private event with Galvano that was not listed on the governor’s official calendar.
The bill presented one of the toughest tests for the governor of five months.
Polls show DeSantis is popular and much of that popularity stems from his eagerness to champion bipartisan ideas, including protecting the environment. But the toll road bill had some powerful backers, and DeSantis risked straining his relationship with Galvano and groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce if he opposed the legislation.
Supporters of the road bill note the state’s population growth is the equivalent of Florida gaining a city the size of Orlando every year. With many highways already clogged, backers say the new roads would alleviate traffic on existing thoroughfares, provide new hurricane evacuation routes and bring economic development to rural areas.
‘I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for partnering with the Florida Legislature to embrace an innovative approach to infrastructure that will enable Florida to strategically plan for future population growth, while at the same time revitalizing rural communities, protecting our unique natural resources, and enhancing public safety,” Galvano said Friday.
DeSantis said Florida needs to keep investing in infrastructure.
“We’re probably gonna need more than that just given how our state’s growing and just given that traffic can be a big problem and so I’m supportive of infrastructure,” DeSantis said Friday.
Environmentalists worry the new roads will lead to massive sprawl that will degrade the state’s natural areas and alter the character of rural communities in a negative way. They mounted an aggressive campaign to get DeSantis to veto the bill.
A Sierra Club email sent out Friday morning slammed the road project.
“The urban sprawl that would accompany the new toll roads would be deadly, devouring hundreds of thousands of acres of rural and natural lands, fragmenting wildlife habitat, and polluting rivers, springs, lakes and coastal waters,” according to the email.
It will be years before construction begins on the new roads. First, transportation planners will assemble a series of task forces to study the exact routes the roads should take and other issues, including how to mitigate environmental concerns.
Galvano is proposing a road that would run 150 miles through the center of the state, connecting the Lakeland region with the Naples area. He also wants to extend the Suncoast Parkway from its current terminus north of Tampa another 150 miles to the Georgia border. A third road would extend Florida’s Turnpike to connect with the expanded Suncoast.