Many local leaders do not want these unnecessary roads but the aggressive DOT and Bill Galvano cronies who stand to make millions are not presenting a fair picture of the options available to the Task Force. That is why your writer always emphasizes in his comments to the Task Force that they have the option of “no action.” This what DOT and Galvano do not want to hear.
The next meeting of the Task Force on the Suncoast Corridor is in Monticello on March 24, from 9:30 to 4:30, unless postponed.
Please take Lindsay Cross’ suggestion and send in your comments.
Read the complete article here in the Tampa Bay Times.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Florida doesn’t want these toll roads to ruin | Column
The process to vet and approve three proposed toll roads (known as M-CORES) through rural Florida has, thus far, been an exercise in what not to do.
Per 2019 legislation, the Legislature established three task forces, one for each study area, to make recommendations regarding 330 miles of new toll roads and, ultimately, Florida’s future. Sadly, the task force process has been flawed from the start and continues to break down as the months progress.
Usually, a task force conducts research or is provided the information needed to inform their decisions. But not for M-CORES. At several meetings, Florida Department of Transportation’s representatives have instructed task force members not to question the “need” for the roads, even though that is part of their purpose, as defined by the legislation. And with only six months remaining in the rushed 13-month process, DOT has not provided critical information, such as economic viability, demonstrated need, and potential road alignments.
At the December task force meetings, the FDOT Chief Engineer Will Watts explained that through a “transparent” process, FDOT would begin developing “corridor swaths” and present them to the task force in February. The latest round of meetings came and went, and those swaths were not provided. More concerning, Watts couldn’t guarantee that road alignments would be available by October. Yet, the task forces have a strict Oct. 31 deadline to submit recommendations to Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Legislature, and FDOT.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to develop educated, well-vetted, and publicly supported recommendations without draft road alignments.
Rather than provide alignments or swaths, FDOT rolled out “avoidance maps,” or areas ruled out for road development based on their agricultural, environmental, or cultural values. But the areas of avoidance aren’t comprehensive enough. Many wetlands, watersheds and public lands remain directly in the line of fire. Local communities have spoken up on this matter, but FDOT isn’t listening….
Task force members are understandably frustrated, especially as public opposition grows in rural counties like Levy and Jefferson. Without adequate resources and the assurance that our natural and cultural resources will be protected — verified by draft alignments and comprehensive avoidance maps — any rational task force member would have no choice but to reject all three proposed toll roads.
Here’s what you can do: send a comment to FDOT.Listens@dot.state.fl.us and tell them you don’t want these roads to ruin.
Lindsay Cross is government relations director for Florida Conservation Voters, a Steering Committee member of the No Roads To Ruin Coalition.