Update 2019-05-02: Please remember to send your letter to FL Gov. DeSantis.
Sierra Club has already published a call urging Gov. DeSantis to veto this “Roads to Ruin” toll expressway bill. WWALS is a signatory, among the six Florida Waterkeepers signed on, with 90 total organizations.
Why is Florida even considering building more toll roads while the Panhandle’s homes, businesses, and agriculture are still in ruins after Hurricane Michael?
Photo: PORT ST. JOE RESIDENT FOR PHILLYVOICE, The destruction of Hurricane Michael on Florida’s Mexico Beach.
As the letter to Gov. DeSantis says: “Providing safe shelters for evacuees is a more practical and affordable response to extreme weather events than new toll expressways.”
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2019
Contact: Frank Jackalone, firstname.lastname@example.org, 727-824-8813, x302; 727-804-1317
Paul Owens, email@example.com, 850-222-6277 x102, 407-222-2301
STATEWIDE ALLIANCE URGES GOVERNOR DESANTIS TO VETO “ROADS TO RUIN” TOLL EXPRESSWAY BILL
Florida taxpayers, rural communities, the Everglades, and water quality are at risk
Tallahassee —Today 90 conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses representing the Panhandle to the Keys sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis urging him to veto the Transportation Corridor bill, SB 7068, when it arrives on his desk.
The letter to the Governor follows similar letters sent to the Senate and House last week and will test the Governor’s post-inaugural declarations of dedication to protecting the Everglades, the springs, and the state’s water quality.
May 1, 2019
The Honorable Ron DeSantis
Plaza Level 05, The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
RE: Veto proposed toll roads – SB 7068
Dear Governor DeSantis:
The 90 below-signed organizations ask that you veto legislation that seeks to construct three toll roads through rural Florida. These highways will not reduce traffic or provide safety during hurricane events.
1000 Friends of Florida found in its Florida 2070 report that Florida is on track to increase developed land to a full third of the State in the next half century. Sprawl is not progress. These toll roads will cost Florida hundreds of thousands of acres of farms and rural lands and fragment landscape and wildlife habitat. The intended “benefits” of these toll roads include water and sewer infrastructure which, with on and off ramps, will accelerate urban sprawl.
This legislation would carve three corridors through Florida’s undeveloped areas:
· “Southwest-Central Florida Connector” extending from Collier County to Polk County; a previous highway planned for the route was called the Heartland Parkway
· “Suncoast Connector” extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County
· “Northern Turnpike Connector” extending from the northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway
Building these roads will be very expensive. The funding would grow from $45 million next fiscal year to $90 million in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, about $135 million the next year, and a recurring amount of $140 million starting in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. And that’s just for planning. Billions will be bonded to actually build hundreds of miles of limited access highways. Florida will be paying off the debt for more than a generation instead of funding education, healthcare, or needed infrastructure for wastewater, drinking water, and the roads and bridges we already have.
These hugely expensive road projects and accompanying urban sprawl will devastate habitat for the Florida Panther and dozens of other endangered and threatened Florida species. They will destroy important wetlands, forests, springs, and aquifer recharge areas from Florida Bay to the Georgia border even though they would not serve an identified transportation purpose. In fact, the FDOT Interstate 75 Relief Task Force recommended in 2016 that rather than new roads, a better approach was expanding the vehicle capacity of the interstate and connecting highways.
Transit and planning relieve congestion, not building roads. Relieving congestion in urban areas requires a focus on transit. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2016 Report Card notes that only 2% of Floridians’ commutes to work were made by public transit and that Florida needs to develop and connect its transit networks with an additional $1.3 billion investment.
Road building is not a sustainable economic development strategy for rural communities. In fact, these roads will route traffic away from communities established on existing roads, harming their economies.
New tollways through west-central Florida are not the answer to hurricane preparedness.
Floridians need more safe spaces in their communities to shelter during storms; only 42% of schools are designated hurricane shelters, indicating many schools do not meet the structural requirements. Providing safe shelters for evacuees is a more practical and affordable response to extreme weather events than new toll expressways.
We urge you to spend Florida tax payer dollars wisely and reject the toll roads.
1000 Friends of Florida
Thomas Hawkins, Policy & Planning Director
Georgia Ackerman, Riverkeeper and Executive Director
Aquatics for Life
Susan Steinhauser, President
Around the Bend Nature Tours LLC
Karen Fraley Willey, CIG, Manager/Naturalist
E. Allen Stewart III, P.E. Managing Partner
Scott Zucker, Vice President & Conservation Co-Chair
Alex Gillen, Policy Director
Gretchen Beesing, CEO
Center for Biological Diversity
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director
Central Florida Astronomical Society
Eric Hoin, President
Lucinda Johnston, Executive Director
Citizens For Sanity
Dan Rametta, Director
City of Seminole Community Garden
Mary Ann Kirk, Garden Coordinator
Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County
Judy Orcutt, Vice President
Concerned Citizens of Bayshore Community, Inc.
Steven Brodkin, Vice President/Secretary
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Nicole Johnson, Director of Environmental Policy
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
Christine P. Johnson, President
Deep Spring Farm
Leela Robinson, Organic Farmer
Defenders of Wildlife
Kent L. Wimmer, AICP, Senior Representative
Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida (DECF)
Michael Newett, President
Ding Darling Wildlife Society
Mike Baldwin, President
Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.
Laurie Murphy, Executive Director
Jane Hunter, Leader
Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF)
Becky Ayech, President
Jennifer Rubiello, State Director
Farmworker Association of Florida
Antonio Tovar, Interim Executive Director
Florida Bay Forever – Save Our Waters
Elizabeth Jolin, Director
Florida Conservation Voters
Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director
Florida Defenders of the Environment
Jim Gross PG, CPG, Executive Director
Florida Keys Environmental Fund, Inc.
Charles Causey, President
Florida Native Plant Society
Susan Carr, President
Florida Native Plant Society, Conradina Chapter
Carol Hebert, President
Florida Native Plant Society, Pine Lily Chapter
Karina Veaudry, President
Matt Casale, Transportation Campaign Director
Florida Policy Institute
Sadaf Knight, CEO
Florida Poor People’s Campaign
Dr. Carolynn Zonia, Leadership Team Member
Florida Voices for Health
Scott Darius, Executive Director
Florida Water Conservation Trust
Terry Brant, Legislative Chairman
Florida Wildlife Federation
Preston Robertson, President
Forging Alliances, Inc.
Alexander Easdale, Owner/Principal
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Catherine Patterson, President
Friends of Split Oak Forest
Valerie Anderson, President
Friends of the Everglades
Philip Kushlan, President
Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, Inc.
Juliette Jones, Director
Hands Along The Water
Samantha Gentrup, President
Ichetucknee Alliance, Inc.
John D. Jopling, President
Indivisible Action Tampa Bay
Christine Hanna, Founder
Indivisible Clay County
Sandy Goldman, Chair
Karen Droege, Chair
Indivisible St. Johns
Mary Lawrence, Founder
Charles Rusman, Lead Team
International Dark Sky Association, FL Chapter
Diana Umpierre, Chair
Izaak Walton League of America, Florida Keys Chapter
Michael F. Chenoweth, President
Lake Worth Waterkeeper
Reinaldo Diaz, Waterkeeper/President
League of Women Voters of Florida
Patricia Brigham, President
Lobby For Animals
Thomas Ponce, Founder/President
Marion Audubon Society
Barbara Schwartz, Conservation Chair
Martin County Conservation Alliance
Donna Melzer, Chair
Miakka Community Club
Natural Resources Defense Council
Alison Kelly, Senior Attorney, Lands Nature Program
NW St. Johns County United for Progress
Richard Chapman, President
Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
Michael Roth, President
Peace Justice Sustainability Florida
Alice Wujciak, Member Activist
Peace Home Campaigns
David Gibson, Organizing Director
Pelican Island Audubon
Richard Baker, Ph.D., President
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director
Rainbow River Conservation, Inc.
Burton Eno, PhD, President
Carol Ahearn, Owner
Leslie Harris-Senac, Board of Directors
Responsible Growth Management Coalition
Connie Langmann, President
Rum 138, LLC
Merrillee Jipson, Owner
Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation
Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy Director
Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association Inc. (SFLDA)
Jill McGuire, President
Save the Manatee Club
Katie Tripp, Ph.D., Director of Science and Conservation
Seminole United Methodist Church Community Garden
Bob Huttick, Garden Coordinator
Sierra Club Florida
Frank Jackalone, Chapter Director
South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association
Monroe Pattillo, President
South Florida Wildlands Association
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director
Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Russ Brick, President
Southwest Florida Astronomical Society
Brian Risley, President
Space Coast Progressive Alliance
Philip E. Stasik, President
Speak Up Wekiva, Inc.
Chuck O’Neal, President
Springs Eternal Project
John Moran, Co-director
St. Johns Riverkeeper
Lisa Rinaman, Riverkeeper
Stone Crab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., Co-founder
Andy Mele, Interim Executive Director
Sunshine Citizens, Inc.
Christopher Vela, President
Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
Andrew Hayslip, Executive Director and Waterkeeper
The Florida Sandhill Crane Preservation Society
Jeanie W. Donohue, President & Founder Emeritus
WWALS Watershed Coalition
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
Letter to Governor DeSantis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1I7w6J94UMUaqhl32Howhz69L9fU-AGVB/view?usp=sharing
Letter to the FL House: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1T9LGnGaV4WictoCskTI3x3UNenUZm7cy/view?usp=sharing
Letter to the FL Senate: https://drive.google.com/file/d/11Fna73PROulA1lVcENs0WMSa9WQaSxSP/view?usp=sharing
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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