FDOT actually answered my complaint that there is no demonstrated need for the M-CORES toll roads, saying FDOT would be sure to do financial due diligence. After the “Final” Task Force reports go to the legislature.
Meanwhile, FDOT has spent how many millions of taxpayer dollars on the un-needed boondoggle? Despite NRTR demonstrating that 93% of comments FDOT received opposed the toll roads?
Nevermind their “deadlines,” you can still send comments to FDOT, and they will go into the public record, retrievable through open records requests.
And don’t forget to vote for people who will stop this toll roads boondoggle and instead do good things for natural Florida and its people. Votes are comments the state of Florida cannot ignore.
I didn’t get to comment on the Suncoast Corridor Task Force meeting, because they didn’t see my sign-up to comment using their procedures. I asked them about that, and got them to acknowledge I had signed up to comment in the Northern Turnpike Connector Task Force meeting the next day.
Here is what I sent FDOT immediately after speaking on October 21, 2020:
Here is a written version of what I just said in the Northern Turnpike Task Force meeting.
I am the Suwannee Riverkeeper, concerned with the entire Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia. We also have active members in Citrus and Marion Counties.
I saw a similar toll road project in Texas. Texas SH 130 was sold as a bypass east around Austin, starting in the early 2000s. In 2018, the private contractor filed for bankruptcy.
“The original estimates for this job were terribly overstated,” SH 130 Concession Company’s current CEO, Andy Bailey, told KXAN. “The original traffic projections were wildly overstated. The company did a couple of additional traffic projections and still missed.”…https://www.kxan.com/investigations/former-sh-130-executives-accused-of-hiding-road-defects-from-lenders/
There is a difference between that Texas toll road and these Florida ones: Nobody has come up with any traffic estimates to justify the Florida toll roads.
As Tall Timbers has pointed out, “US Highway 19, a four-lane divided roadway, runs throughout the length of the eight-county Suncoast Connector planning area and is substantially underutilized. In fact, for much of its route through the toll road planning area, US 19 functions at between 16 and 20 percent of its maximum service volume.”
I’ve seen no better traffic numbers for the Northern Turnpike Connector, which is supposed to connect to the Suncoast project.
So there is no need for the Florida toll roads.
They would tear through the fragile wetlands and forests of the Suwannee River Basin, crossing the Suwannee River, risking the springs heartland of Florida.
We don’t need a toll road for fast rural Internet access.
For hurricane preparedness, it would be much more cost-effective to build better shelters, and to provide solar panels with batteries, for both the shelters and homes and businesses.
The only logical conclusion is to cancel the M-CORES toll road projects.
On October 14, 2020, I had sent them a longer version on letterhead in PDF.
After all the commenters had spoken, and the FDOT Secretary had given his pep talk, someone mentioned me by name “Mr. Quarterman” and said FDOT would for sure do financial due diligence. Exactly when was unclear, but clearly not before the Final Reports go to the legislature.
And that is the big different between these Florida toll roads and the broke-from-the-start Texas SH 130 toll road: in Texas, somebody bothered to at least make up an alleged need. In Florida, apparently FDOT can spend taxpayer dollars without any need.
The closest thing to need I heard was in the FDOT Secretary’s homily, when he said he expected population growth, even in rural counties. The Suncoast Connector and Northern Turnpike Connector would cut wide swaths through the swamps and piney woods of the rural Suwannee River Basin, and that is not where even Florida needs growth.
Luring more people to Florida while wasting money on this toll roads boondoggle instead of building more hurricane shelters and solar panels with batteries is just putting more people at risk for a few people’s profit.
Supposedly last week was the last chance to comment to the Task Forces, which was a week after the supposed last chance to comment to FDOT about the Final Report.
But this is a tax-funded project run by a Florida state agency. Anything you send them at any time becomes part of the public record. So go ahead, send them more comments!
- or use this comment form:
Please comment today!
Oh, and go vote. For people who will stop this toll roads boondoggle and instead do something good for natural Florida.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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