Governor, veto toll roads bill–

Galvano In: Governor, veto toll roads bill-- | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Bill Galvano, center, DeSantis must veto his lobbying for industry.

Poor planning, or rather, no planning.  Poor thinking, or rather, no thinking.

The transit  problems  can be solved by using current corridors and avoiding sprawl.  The governor will show his colors on this issue.

Read the original article here in the Gainesville Sun, May 14, 2016.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Governor, veto toll roads bill

It came as no surprise that Senate President Bill Galvano’s plan to build three new major toll roads across Florida won approval from both houses of the Legislature. Senate presidents and House speakers have absolute power over their respective chambers and any legislation our lawmakers propose. So, whatever the Senate president wants, the Senate president gets.

But that does not mean the toll roads, which would cover some 350 miles of mostly rural countryside, are a good idea. Because they are not.

Gov. Ron DeSantis should veto SB 7068 because these roads threaten some of the best farmland and most sensitive green spaces left in Florida. The plan would extend the Suncoast Parkway to the Georgia border, build a new road from Lakeland to Naples and extend the Florida Turnpike from Wildwood to the new Suncoast Parkway.

Oddly, the largest highway initiative since the Florida Turnpike was built in the 1950s does not even address the state’s most pressing traffic problem — daily gridlock in its largest population centers.

The Legislature approved this multibillion-dollar initiative without having studied the need or without the input of the communities affected. Already lawmakers have committed more than $300 million for planning purposes without any demonstrated proof that these are the right roads, in the right places, or are wanted by the people they presumably will help.

Galvano offered a laundry list of reasons why Florida needs these particular roads, including creating new hurricane evacuation routes and helping the state’s rural areas develop economically. What he has failed to codify in his legislation is how will these roads affect the myriad environmental treasures they will pass through or over — the rivers, the springs, the irreplaceable watersheds that quench the entire state’s thirst.

The Senate president — backed by some of the state’s biggest big-money special interests — also cannot tell us is where these roads will go, how much they will cost or how we will pay for them. It was telling when the state of Georgia said it had not been consulted.

In an attempt to assuage critics, Galvano & Co. inserted a mandate requiring local advisory committees to review environmental and economic impacts of each project. This 11th-hour add-on has no teeth, and rest assured we have already seen the authority of such committees in the recent I-75 Relief Task Force, which recommended not building a new super highway through North Florida. How did that work out?

Claiming that building a new road through areas that lack adequate workforce, sufficient infrastructure and educational and economic support services will lead to rapid development and prosperity is fanciful. Florida has a road problem, but not in our most rural, unpopulated regions of the state. If Florida is going to spend untold billions on new superhighways, it should not be in places like Arcadia, Perry and Dunnellon.

As The Sun argued in an editorial last week, DeSantis should veto Senate Bill 7068. The governor should call for a plan that is actually planned out and defensible.

1 Comment

  1. Resistance to the new road issue has become newsworthy, but there’s more to the story. A few years ago, landowners were deluged with out-of-state offers to buy their rural and undeveloped properties. I have just received the first offer from the second wave of speculators. There is no doubt in my mind that “outside” investors are the ones behind this latest “field of dreams” road to nowhere scheme!

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