Category Archives: Transportation

Langdale Park closed, Withlacoochee River, Valdosta, GA 2020-07-14

With the dogs in the truck, I thought I would let them wet their feet in the Withlacoochee River at Langdale Park Boat Ramp.

[Gate]
Gate

Nope, gate closed.

So I called Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA). They said they’re fixing up the entrance road at Langdale Park, with the assistance of Lowndes County. I agreed that it had needed it; plenty of potholes. They said they expected to reopen some time in August, although everything was delayed due to pandemic. Ain’t that the truth. Continue reading

Ask Gov. DeSantis to veto M-CORES from the budget 2020-06-05

Please write today, something like this:


To: Governor Ron DeSantis <governorron.desantis@eog.myflorida.com>
Subject: Please redirect M-CORES toll roads funds to critical state needs

Please wield your veto pen to remove from the budget the $90 million dedicated to M-CORES.

Signed, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper


Back in April, WWALS sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis asking him to repurpose toll road funds and we asked you to do that, too.

On June 5, 2020, eighty organizations including WWALS wrote to Gov. DeSantis requesting the same, as you can see below.

Now the Florida state budget is on his desk, so he has an opportunity to do this. Please help. Contact the Governor today.

No Roads to Ruin Letter June 5, 2020

Continue reading

Toll Roads webinars are illegal: ask Florida Governor to repurpose funds to pandemic relief 2020-05-28

There’s no point in attending the toll roads webinars: instead ask Florida governor DeSantis to use the toll road funds for pandemic relief.

FDOT didn’t listen to First Amendment Foundation: “All portions of the Sunshine Law continue to apply even during this horrible pandemic. No part of the Law has been suspended or modified as applied to state agencies. As a result, I respectfully request that FDOT exercise patience, cancel any and all M-CORES Task Force meetings, and reschedule the meetings only when members of the Task Force and Florida citizens can fully participate in-person and by all feasible means.

Instead, FDOT scheduled more bogus webinars this week, starting tomorrow.

[FAF to FDOT (1 of 3)]
FAF to FDOT (1 of 3)

Better: please ask Florida governor DeSantis to repurpose toll road funds to pandemic relief.

Thanks to the No Roads to Ruin (NRTR) steering committee, here is the FAF letter to FDOT (PDF).

News coverage: Continue reading

Video: Sign up to recommend No Build; M-CORES toll road webinars

Floridians moved to Lowndes County, Georgia, after Hurricane Irma, but not because of lack of toll roads. If they had had solar panels and batteries so they wouldn’t be without power for weeks, they might have stayed in Florida, said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can recommend No Build this coming week, as M-CORES holds webinars with public comment. See below for how.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman]
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says No Build.

The Suncoast Connector Task Force webinar is 9:30 AM to 12 noon, Thursday, April 30, 2020. That’s the toll road that would run from Crystal River across the Suwannee River, through farms, forests, and wetlands, building bypasses around towns and cities, to Thomasville, Georgia.

To listen, you have to Continue reading

Videos: Don’t split farms, and don’t harm nature, schools, or aquifer, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Toll roads splitting farms would be generational damage, said farmer Ernest Culver of Jackson County, and the Task Force doesn’t take into account churches or schools, not to mention nature, rivers, or the Floridan Aquifer, said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Columbia County, at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

[Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson]
Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

The idea of repurposing toll roads funds for virus pandemic relief continues to get more at least indirect support. Craig Pitman, Florida Phoenix, 9 April 2020, Does Florida still need that trio of billion-dollar toll roads?,

Florida’s controversial new toll roads hit a potential roadblock this week.

Two of them are supposed to Continue reading

Videos: Toll roads as prosperity drain and climate change, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

More toll roads could drain prosperity, and more driving means more climate change, said two speakers at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can send your opinion to FDOT.Listens@dot.state.fl.us. And Sierra Club has provided a convenient way for Floridians to tell FDOT No Build:
https://addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/no-roads-to-ruin/take-action

See also the No Roads to Ruin Coalition facebook page.

A couple of speakers in Madison were for the toll roads, both claiming economic benefits. Madison County later terminated the consulting contract for one of them as a cost-cutting measure due to virus pandemic.

If one county can do that, the state of Florida can do that, as we previously suggested. See also Philip Beasley, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 12, 2020, Put federal dollars in hands of jobless.

Here are the WWALS videos of speakers in Madison:

Videos: No Build: Fire and Traffic at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Update 2020-04-18: Videos: Toll roads as prosperity drain and climate change, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11.

Prescribed fire is important, said Eugene Kelly, Policy and Legislative Chair, Florida Native Plants Society. Four-lane I-10 instead, to preserve businesses along that road, said Jimmy Ray of Madison County. Here are WWALS videos of these two more speakers against the toll roads boondoggle in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

Meanwhile, apparently great minds think alike, because the idea WWALS member Janet Mikulski Messcher had a few weeks ago of asking the Florida governor to repurpose toll road moneys for pandemic relief was also published independently that same day by in the Sun-Sentinel by Susan L. Trevarthen of 1000 Friends of Florida.

Repurpose toll road funds for virus relief

Update 2020-04-16: Videos: No Build: Fire and Traffic at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11.

Here’s an idea from WWALS member Janet Mikulski Messcher.

To: Governor Ron DeSantis
GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com
800-342-3557

Dear Governor DeSantis,

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please seek ways to shift funding from unnecessary and destructive projects to those that support our current public and community health needs. In particular, the M-CORES legislation, passed in the 2019 session, includes money for the task force process and for construction of three destructive tollroads. There is significant public opposition to these roads which have not been proven to be necessary nor economically viable. Attention should be focused on supporting our public health, including additional testing and research to support development of a vaccine.

If the Legislature returns to Tallahassee for a special session to address the budget in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that the House and Senate budget leaders consider diverting the $135 million (FY 2019/20 and FY 2020/21) earmarked from the M-CORES tollroads to go to pandemic response efforts and other community health priorities.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Please share this post and send in your letters. Feel free to copy your M-CORES Task Force members.

Photo: Bill Galvano, President, Florida Senate, Twitter, 17 May 2019.
Photo: Bill Galvano, President, Florida Senate, Twitter, 17 May 2019.

Here are more videos from the Madison County meeting of February 11, 2020, continuing the series that I started yesterday. I do not know whether these speakers support repurposing the funds as above, but Florida Conservation Voters was among the 90 organizations that asked Gov. DeSantis to veto the toll roads bill, as part of the No Toll Roads to Ruin coalition.

Lindsay Cross of Florida Conservation Voters asked the M-CORES Task Force to consider community vision instead of the toll road vision foisted on all of us by a few people in Tallahassee.

The Mayor of Monticello, Troy Avera, had been trying to sit on the fence, but he really doesn’t like a bypass, which would starve his city.

No Build: Speakers at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Update 2019-04-03: More speakers, and ask the governor to repurpose toll road money to virus relief.

Many people traveled hours to speak for three minutes in Madison County, Florida, against the toll road boondoggle, on February 11, 2020. I videoed them for WWALS. Here are the first few speakers.

I will add more in coming days, to encourage you all to tell your elected and appointed officials we don’t want resources wasted, farms torn apart, and our rivers and springs polluted by these unnecessary toll roads.

Fanning Springs No (Toll) Roads to Ruin meeting 2020-02-12

And no toll road coming right up to the Suwannee River from the south, not even if it’s called “Northern Turnpike Connector.” Yes, the day after the Madison, FL, Suncoast Connector meeting, there’s a meeting in Fanning Springs, FL, about the Northern Turnpike Connector. Why Fanning Springs? Because their “study areas” overlap, both including Levy and Citrus Counties.

[Overlap: Suncoast and Northern Turnpike Connector]
Map: Overlap: Suncoast and Northern Turnpike Connector, screenshot from M-CORES interactive map.

Any of these toll road boondoggles would waste money that should go to water quality testing and eco-tourism, not to mention fixing fertilizer nitrates leaching into our springs and rivers.

When: 9:30-4:30 PM, Tuesday, February 11, 2020
4:00 PM Public Comment

Where: Suwannee River Fair Pavilion Continue reading