Tampa Bay Times
August 21, 2019
What we have here is corruption: “ Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain.” And you can bet there is plenty of personal gain in this project.
And plenty of personal loss also, and that is permanent. loss of environment, springs, wildlife, rural landscape and quality of life.
We wonder why the task force composition does not include people from Sierra Club, Our Santa Fe River, Wildlife Conservation Society, Center for Biological Diversity, etc. Why not?
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Paving the way for toll roads
The very groups that will advise the state on new toll roads that nobody asked for and nobody can afford are the same monied interests who stand to make a killing from these publicly subsidized corridors for sprawl. This is not an exercise in smart planning but the dismal picture of business as usual in Tallahassee. At least the public can now see who will be building the case for this legislative farce.
State lawmakers this year approved the largest expansion of Florida’s toll roads in decades, claiming the new toll roads would ease congestion, spur rural development and speed hurricane evacuations. The plan calls for extending the Suncoast Parkway to Georgia, building Florida’s Turnpike west to connect with the parkway and creating a toll road from Polk County south to Collier County. The Florida Department of Transportation had none of these projects on its radar. But Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, revived the idea this year after hearing a pitch from the Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Transportation Builders Association. News flash: Road builders like to build roads.
Three new task forces are meeting for the first time this month to advise state officials. All three – one for each proposed road – will include members of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the large business lobby that was one of the loudest champions of the toll roads. As Lawrence Mower of the Times-Herald Tallahassee bureau reports, it’s becoming clear even in these early stages the out-sized role special interests will play in determining where and how these roads will be built. The task forces also include representatives from groups like the Florida Trucking Association and the Florida Internet & Television Association – industries that could make a bundle from new toll roads that speed commutes for truckers and pave the way for new subdivisions clamoring for cable and broadband.
It’s not hard to imagine what will come from advisory boards stacked with industries that stand to gain enormously from this multi-billion dollar venture…
Read the rest of the article in the August 21, 21019 edition of the Tampa Bay Times here at this link.