Plan for three Florida toll roads can move forward

July 2019

Keith Goble

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OOIDA believes increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable way for states to generate additional revenue.

Florida officials have opted to go another route to get transportation work underway.

Three new toll projects around the state have received the green light to move forward.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill to build one new toll road and extend two others. Specifically, the new law authorizes moving forward with an extension of the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia line.

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has called for extending the 150-mile-long project. He says it would help the economies of rural areas along the path.

Additional projects include a toll road to connect Polk County to Collier County, and a connector for the Florida Turnpike west to the Suncoast Parkway.

“The time has come to prioritize these critical infrastructure enhancements and to combine those efforts with innovations that enhance surrounding communities,” Galvano said in a statement.

“The benefits of this type of long-term investment in our infrastructure include regional connectivity that enhances trade and tourism, congestion mitigation, and evacuation routes.”

The three projects have a price tag totaling $45 million in the proposed state budget. The cost will double next year and reach $132 million in 2021. The cost will reach $140 million beginning in 2022.

Advocates tout the roads as helping to relieve congestion on Interstates 74 and 4.

Criticisms of the plan are largely focused on environmental concerns. Opponents say the toll projects will harm waterways and wildlife.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said on bill-signing day the infrastructure improvements would be built with “great sensitivity” toward the protection of the environment.

The new law will have task forces meet publicly and study the three projects. Findings and recommendations will be provided to the Florida Department of Transportation. The agency will have the final say on how each project moves forward.

Construction is expected to begin within three years. Completion of the projects is set for 2030. LL

 

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.

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