Planning Council Hears About Toll Roads and Environment


Ken Cornell


The battle has started, but as Alachua Commissioner  Ken Cornell says, there will be many election cycles before our earth gets ripped up.   If we  had no hope, we would not get out of bed in the morning.  Once more, thanks to Ken Cornell for the suppport and affirmation of our mission.

Yesterday, May 23, 2019, marked the 50th anniversary of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, which met in Lake City.  Present were no fewer than nine passionate opponents of Bill Galvano’s horrible, selfish, misguided,  and dysfunctional dream of bringing  development to rural areas of Florida.


John Quarterman, Suwannee RiverKeeper            Kate Galagher

Wasted money is the least of the flaws in this politically motivated boondoggle, but there is plenty of that.  The worst is that development will engulf  some of the few rural areas left in Florida, sucking out more water that will further deplete our springs, rivers and aquifer.  And for nothing,  as studies already done by the I-75 Relief Task Force have shown that we do not need new corridors, only modifications to the current ones.

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, symbol of environmental protection encarnate.  Merrillee sets the bar for everyone else, and nobody comes even close.

Your historian was allowed his two cents worth, which is as follows:


Probably everyone in this room knows about the recent bill passed into law and signed by governor to build new toll roads throughout Florida.

Some of you here may think this is a good idea, but let me tell you why we must oppose this.

We cannot afford nor do we need massive new development.  One proposed road goes through rural, less inhabited areas, home to the Santa Fe, Suwannee and Ichetucknee rivers.  This is our unique Springs Heartland, driver for a fast-growing tourism.  North Florida’s springs and rivers are imperiled and dying as proven by greatly reduced flows and huge increases in nitrate pollution. 

Water management districts are failing to protect our water resources and their own projections for the next few years show that we will not have enough for our current needs, let alone the development these roads would bring.

Rural areas will not benefit from new roads.  New highway corridors bring gas stations, motels, fast food chains, and strip malls.  These generate traffic that the new road was supposed to alleviate.

The new road bill was not carefully conceived nor well thought out.  It did not come from the FL Dept. of  Transportation , and the FDEP was not involved.   It is so poorly planned that one road ends near the GA. line south of Thomasville with nothing on the other side to connect.  Ga was not even informed.

The bill is the pet whim of Bill Galvano and cronies to help lobbyists for the FL Chamber of Commerce, Fl Trucking Assoc. and Asphalt Contractors Assoc of FL.  It would especially help Thomas Peterffy, richest man in Florida who also contributed $300K to DeSantis’ campaign.  He is working on a huge development of 561,000 acres in Lafayette, Dixie and Taylor counties and the road would give his master development plan a huge boost.

This is in an area where are water needs already are not being met, nor are resources being restored.

This bill was opposed by 90 different groups in Florida, and for good reason.  Many of you here know and participated in the 2016 I-75 Relief Study Task Force.  Galvano wants to spend 300 million to duplicate a study that was done 3 years ago. 

Your Council’s recommendation to the I-75 Relief Task Force is summarized as follows:

Supported a recommendation for new transportation corridors to only be considered once significant improvements to existing corridors have been planned and programmed.

This also happens to be the consensus of the study.  So I believe the Council is already on track, but please prepare to oppose this destructive proposal. 

A few of you here may know me as an opponent of phosphate mining. I used to think that was the industry most destructive to Florida’s environment.  I know now, it is number two.  Number one is development.

Please fight this with all your might.

Sarah Younger                                                     David Moritz

Eileen Box, Live Oak                                                                         Captain Karen Chadwick, lady of many talents who loves our rivers


OSFR board member Kristin Rubin distributes information for Merrillee’s talk.  The Council was receptive to our message.

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