Oppose SB 7068 Tolled expressway through Florida’s nature coast.

Oppose SB 7068 Tolled expressway through Florida’s nature coast.

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Jessica Bellot started this petition to Governor Ron DeSantis

The controversial Florida toll road plan that is Senate President Bill Galvano’s top priority this legislative session was approved this week in that chamber by a vote of 37-1. Marion County’s two senators, Dennis Baxley and Keith Perry, voted in favor of the so-called M-CORES, short for Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program.

Now it is left to Gov. Ron DeSantis to stop this massive project that will be detrimental to Florida’s Nature Coast.

The expressway bill (SB 7068) or M-CORES Program I will be three different four-lane toll roads. It is being pushed through by the Senate president as a “hurricane evacuation route”. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build these roads, roads which do not address the state’s worst traffic needs. For example, take a look at Galvano’s proposed extension of the Suncoast Parkway from Crystal River to the Georgia line and the six counties that are likely to be in its path have a combined population of about 100,000.

The toll road plan is being backed by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Ports Council, the Florida Trucking Association and the Asphalt Contractors Association of Florida. Getting a picture of who is certain to benefit from building three cross-state limited access toll roads? Galvano’s right hand man has bought thousands of acres in one of these rural counties for $1000/acre. He will be selling that land to the state for a very large profit.

Galvano is also trying to sell M-CORES as an economic development initiative for poor, rural counties. He says if the roads are built, they will bring feeder roads, water and sewer infrastructure and broadband service to the most rural areas of our state and growth with them. But we all know that a four-lane road does not necessarily ignite an economic boom, as evidenced by the Interstate 10 corridor across the entire Panhandle.

As the bill is written, the Legislature would commit more than $300 million over the next four years for planning purposes. No one can tell us, or even guess, how much the total pricetag will be. Furthermore, this bill is specifically written in such a way that it will bypass current laws in place to protect wildlife and foregoing extensive economic studies prior to the building of the toll roads.

Galvano also is promising the Florida Department of Transportation would set up task forces to study economic and environmental impacts of extending the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia border, extending the Florida Turnpike west (probably through Dunnellon) to the Suncoast Parkway and building a new toll road from Lakeland to Naples. Galvano says these task forces will ensure communities a say in what’s done and how.

Don’t believe him, They had a task force to address Interstate 75 congestion four years ago and its recommendations were totally — totally — ignored.

We urge governor DeSantis to stop this runaway road plan. There are too many rivers, springs, and wildlands that would be damaged or destroyed by such a project and with them a vast piece of our quality of life. This development would destroy the ecosystems of Florida’s Nature Coast.

We urge Givernor DeSantis to say no to M-CORES (SB 7068) and address the critical traffic needs of our urban centers. Meanwhile, how about expanding I-75  or US HWY 19 to handle today’s traffic.

Furthermore, if Governor DeSantis would like to assist in boosting the economy of the rural communities that will be irreversibly damaged by this expressway plan, we ask that he recognize the crookedness and greed that is fueling the expressway plan.  There are many ways to increase revenue for rural areas, toll roads and expressways are not the answer. Please don’t allow the destruction of our homes. Please don’t allow the destruction of our ecosystems. Hasn’t Florida’s wildlife suffered enough? This bill supports the building of roads that aren’t needed; roads that would destroy large swaths of wild and natural Florida...all while wasting billions of dollars.

Bill #SB7068 supporting these tollways will fragment natural landscapes, accelerate urban sprawl, destroy wetlands, and doom plans to preserve and restore critical wildlife corridors for many animals, including the Florida panther and black bear.

Please, protect what’s left of our natural landscape, sign this petition, and call Governor DeSantis NOW. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!