Galvano’s critical misstep here would send Florida crashing down to a level of congestion and over-development from which it could not recover.
Read the complete article here in the Florida Times Union.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Put Brakes On Toll Roads Plan
Posted Nov 3, 2019 at 2:00 AM
There was little planning done before lawmakers pushed through Florida’s largest highway expansion in 50 years.
Florida lawmakers authorized three new toll roads this spring even though transportation officials didn’t have them in their long-term plans. They still lack projections for expected costs, demand and toll revenue from the roads.
None of this mattered to the Legislature. Under the leadership of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, lawmakers approved building more than 300 miles of toll roads through largely rural areas of the state without such basic information….
“We’re beating a dead horse right now before it’s even born,” said Dixie County Commissioner Mark Hatch, another member of the Suncoast connector task force.
Hatch said task force members are stumped with developing vague environmental recommendations, while knowing little about the road’s route, costs and what it would displace. Preliminary routes aren’t even supposed to be put forward until early next year.
Galvano has dismissed such concerns. He said last week simply that these “these corridors need to exist,” pointing to the state’s growing population and tourism as reasons.
But Galvano’s plan would encourage that growth in areas that are largely underdeveloped, including North Florida’s springs heartland. Florida needs to better manage growth, not accelerate the kind of sprawling development that is the most damaging to the environment and wasteful in using groundwater, energy and other resources.
Hawkins and others have rightly said that Florida should first look at improving existing corridors before building new toll roads. Unless the state puts the brakes on the toll roads, it will have less funding for transportation projects that are actually thought-out rather than pushed through without planning by a powerful lawmaker.