Defeat Suncoast Connector 2019-04-05

Please call your Florida state legislators to ask them to oppose a toll expressway across the Suwannee River, and maybe even across the Santa Fe or Ichetucknee Rivers. Instead, let’s do Amtrak passenger trains for better transportation and solar power for jobs and lower energy prices.

Map, Suncoast Connector, Defenders of Wildlife
Suncoast Connector, Defenders of Wildlife

This boondoogle would come up from Citrus County to Jefferson County. That’s all the bills (SB 7068 or HB 7113) say about the route.

Defenders of Wildlife has a corridor map that shows Suncoast Connector coming from Crystal River in Citrus County, through Gilchrist and maybe Alachua Counties, possibly crossing the Santa Fe River into Columbia County and the Ichetucknee River into Suwannee County. It would have to cross the Suwannee River somewhere, maybe into Dixie or Lafayette or even Madison County, heading on through Taylor County to Monticello in Jefferson County.

Here’s a better way to improve transportation in the Suwannee River Basin: revive Amtrak through Madison and Lake City. The tracks are already there, so there’s no need for construction or destruction.

Hundred Friends of Florida has a sketch of all three proposed tolled expressways.

Oppose Tolled Expressways, Hundred Friends of Florida
Oppose Tolled Expressways, Hundred Friends of Florida

Since FPL and Duke got their Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle built in 2016, both have been building solar farms across the state. FPL’s parent NextEra Energy doesn’t even mention Sabal Trail anymore in its quarterly earnings calls. Instead it brags at length about being a world leader in solar and wind power.

FPL is even building the world’s largest solar-powered battery system to replace two gas power units at its Manatee plant.

Why are electric utilities building solar power now? Because even they have to admit that the price of solar has fallen so much due to sheer economics of scale that nothing else can compete for cost, speed of construction, and lack of environmental damage, not to mention jobs. Solar power has won the market competition. A year ago solar power already employed more people in electric power generation than coal, oil, gas, and nuclear combined, and was about to edge out gas even including fuel production.

So for economic development, clean water, wildlife, and property rights, let’s get Amtrak running again and get on with solar power. Toll roads are no answer to anything.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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