Florida toll roads task force reports sent to Gov. DeSantis, House and Senate leaders

no roads coalitionboard In: Florida toll roads task force reports sent to Gov. DeSantis, House and Senate leaders | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
“No Roads to Ruin Coalition” poster in Tallahassee Capitol Buildig. OSFR logo top center. Photo by Jim Tatum.

The task forces also said they couldn’t reach any conclusions based on available information, in part because there was “no proven need.” 
And, he added, “as we look at corridors and alignments more closely, we will look at the ‘no build’ option.”

So we don’t know yet, but it seems that much of the wind has been taken from Mr. Bill Galvano’s sails, and we shall see.  Coalition groups,  including several OSFR board members,  hammered away at each toll road meeting, repeating the “no need” and “no build” message.

The entire toll road push was a last minute political scheme for a few people to make millions. It was poorly presented and even more poorly planned and sprung upon the public without key players such as the Department of Transportation informed beforehand.

The Suncoast Connector miraculously was planned to go through a good deal of Taylor County where Florida’s richest man, Thomas Peterffy, has been hoping for some time to build a new city carved out of some the Florida’s remaining  rural areas.

This same toll road was to end at the Florida-Georgia line, just south of Thomasville, Ga., population 18,537.  Georgia was also surprised that a new toll road was to come up to their state.

Read the entire article here in the Tallahassee Democrat.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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Florida toll roads task force reports sent to Gov. DeSantis, House and Senate leaders

Jeffrey Schweers Capital Bureau USA TODAY NETWORK
November 13, 2020

The Florida Department of Transportation on Thursday said it transmitted the final task force reports on a proposed series of new toll roads to Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders.

The three reports for the Suncoast, Northern Turnpike and Southwest-Central Connectors, which have generated dissent and controversy, are each over 70 pages long.

But don’t expect any bombshells. Or specific recommended routes for the roads.

The summaries of each of the task force reports open with the line: “Due to the early stage of planning for this corridor and the limited data and analysis on potential needs and impacts available at this time, the Task Force was not able to fully address its charge of evaluating the needs for and impacts of the … corridor.”

The task forces also said they couldn’t reach any conclusions based on available information, in part because there was “no proven need.”

They still, however, provided a lengthy list of recommendations for the FDOT as it continues to plan for 330 miles of road that make up the Multi-use Corridors of Regional and Economic Significance, or M-CORES.

All three task force reports are available online.

“The Task Forces have protected Florida’s natural areas and rural lands from what could have been a disaster,” said Charles Lee, Director of Advocacy for Audubon Florida. “In effect, the Task Force recommendations have directed DOT to use rigorous criteria in considering any road expansions, declared that there is not any immediate need for these corridors, and rejected the rush to build projects that seemed to fuel the original 2019 Legislation.”

The reports were 15 months in the making and included input from thousands of Florida residents from one end of the state to the other. Florida Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault said his department was committed to following those recommendations, he said, calling M-CORES a model for future planning.

And, he added, “as we look at corridors and alignments more closely, we will look at the ‘no build’ option.”

The task forces were made up of business people, civic leaders, environmentalists, regional planners, water management district officials, city and county commissioners and state agency officials.

Some environmental groups had criticized the process as a foregone conclusion because of the way the legislation creating M-CORES was written, while othershave called the proposed highways “toll roads to nowhere.”

“The entire M-CORES process has been flawed and represents a callous preference for special interests and developers over what is best for Florida,” said Jon Bleyer of Progress Florida, speaking for the No Roads to Ruin Coalition Steering Committee.

The Florida Conservation Voters said it would work with other groups to try to convince the Legislature to amend the law creating the roads in the upcoming 2021 legislative session, which begins in March.

Contact Jeff Schweers at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.


 

1 Comment

  1. Each county has a laundry list of immediate transportation needs that will take years to complete at their current rate of funding. There are alternate roads in counties that can be utilized to reduce traffic instead of building three massive toll roads through sensitive land, agriculture land and destructively harming our ecosystem and water supply.

    What’s has been missing in all the corridor studies is “sustainable development” or smart growth. Once roads are in so does development. Cities cannot keep up with massive development for their “essential services”. Comprehensive planning in every county is necessary and it’s time to submit a revised plan to control growth. If not, developers will plan for you. Remember, zoning dictates quality of life.

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