For Immediate Release (PDF)
April 25, 2019
Contact: David Cullen, email@example.com, 941-323-2404
Diana Umpierre, firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-829-7632
John S. Quarterman, email@example.com, 850-290-2350
75 ORGANIZATIONS, BUSINESSES URGE HOUSE TO STOP TOLL ROADS
Transportation Corridors bills are bad deal for Florida taxpayers
Legislature’s planned road project could benefit Florida’s richest man, by Julie Hauserman, Florida Phoenix,March 21, 2019.
Tallahassee — Today 75 conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses representing every corner of the state sent a letter to the Florida House of Representatives urging a no vote on the Transportation Corridor bills (SB 7068/HB 7113).
The letter to the House follows a similar letter sent to the Senate on Monday and will be followed by a separate letter to Governor DeSantis urging a veto of the toll road plan if the House does not put the brakes on the legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday.
April 25, 2019
The Honorable House of Representatives
House Office Building
402 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
RE: Oppose proposed toll roads – HB 7113/SB 7068
To the Florida House of Representatives:
The 75 below-signed organizations and businesses ask that you oppose 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
Aquatics for Life
Susan Steinhauser, President
Scott Zucker, Vice President & Conservation Co-Chair
E. Allen Stewart III, P.E. Managing Partner
Alex Gillen, Policy Director
Gretchen Beesing, CEO
Central Florida Astronomical Society
Eric Hoin, President
Center for Biological Diversity
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director
Florida Bay Forever – Save Our Waters
Elizabeth Jolin, Director
Lucinda Johnston, Executive Director
Florida Conservation Voters
Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director
Citizens For Sanity
Dan Rametta, Director
Florida Native Plant Society
Susan Carr, President
City of Seminole Community Garden
Mary Ann Kirk, Garden Coordinator
Florida Native Plant Society, Conradina
Carol Hebert, President
Clean Water Coalition of Indian River
Judy Orcutt, Vice President
Concerned Citizens of Bayshore
Steven Brodkin. Vice President/Secretary
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Nicole Johnson, Director of Environmental Policy
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf
Christine P. Johnson, President
Defenders of Wildlife
Kent L. Wimmer, AICP, Senior Representative
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
Florida Native Plant Society, Pine Lily
Karina Veaudry, President
Matt Casale, Transportation Campaign Director
Florida Policy Institute
Sadaf Knight, CEO
Florida Voices for Health
Scott Darius, Executive Director
Florida Water Conservation Trust
Terry Brant, Legislative Chairman
Forging Alliances, Inc.
Alexander Easdale, Owner/Principal
Friends of the Everglades
Philip Kushlan, President
Friends of Split Oak Forest
Valerie Anderson, President
Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, Inc.
Juliette Jones, Director
Hands Along The Water
Samantha Gentrup, President
Ichetucknee Alliance, Inc.
John D. Jopling, President
Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
Michael Roth, President
Indivisible Clay County
Sandy Goldman, Chair
Peace Justice Sustainability Florida
Alice Wujciak, Member Activist
Karen Droege, Chair
David Gibson, Organizing Director
Indivisible St Johns
Mary Lawrence, Founder
Pelican Island Audubon
Richard Baker, Ph.D., President
Charles Rusman, Lead Team
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director
International Dark Sky Association, FL
Diana Umpierre, Chair
Rainbow River Conservation, Inc.
Burton Eno, PhD, President
Izaak Walton League of America, Florida
Michael F. Chenoweth, 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
Carol Ahearn, Owner
Leslie Harris-Senac, Board of Directors
Responsible Growth Management
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.
Jill McGuire, President
Save the Manatee Club
Katie Tripp, Ph.D., Director of Science and Conservation
Seminole United Methodist Church
Bob Huttick, Garden Coordinator
Sierra Club Florida
Frank Jackalone, Chapter Director
Speak Up Wekiva, Inc.
Chuck O’Neal, President
South Florida Amateur Astronomers
Monroe Pattillo, President
Springs Eternal Project
John Moran, Co-director
St. Johns Riverkeeper
Lisa Rinaman, Riverkeeper
South Florida Wildlands Association
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director
Stone Crab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., Co-founder
Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Tim Khan, Vice President
Sunshine Citizens, Inc.
Christopher Vela, President
Southwest Florida Astronomical Society
Brian Risley, President
WWALS Watershed Coalition
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
Space Coast Progressive Alliance
Philip E. Stasik, President
Link to House Letter:
Link to Senate Letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/11Fna73PROulA1lVcENs0WMSa9WQaSxSP/view?usp=sharing
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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