Florida DOT adds M-CORES toll meetings amid public outcry
November 12, 2019
With three proposed toll roads on its plate, the Florida Department of Transportation recently announced additional public meetings for the Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance, also known as M-CORES.
On Nov. 8, FDOT announced additional M-CORES task force meetings in February and April. Meetings in December will continue as scheduled.
According to a news release, the additional meetings “will allow more time for each task force to study various aspects of the proposed M-CORES projects and achieve the items the task forces are charged with under state law.”
Details about the December meetings can be found here. However, dates for the February and April meetings have not been scheduled as of press time.
Signed into law in May by Gov. Ron DeSantis, M-CORES addresses several issues, including hurricane evacuation, congestion mitigation, trade/logistics and technology of autonomous, connected, shared and electric vehicles.
The project focuses on three corridors: Suncoast Connector (from Citrus County to Jefferson County), Northern Turnpike Connector (from the northern terminus of Florida’s turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway) and Southwest-Central Florida Connector (from Collier County to Polk County). To pay for the project, new toll roads are suggested for each of the corridors.
According to the bill, S7068, a task force assigned to study the corridors was to be assembled by Aug. 1. Subsequently, public meetings are to be held for each corridor. After that, a full report of the task forces’ findings is to be submitted by Oct. 1, 2020.
As the Tampa Bay Times reported in October, several members of the task forces are becoming frustrated over the entire plan. More specifically, many feel that the time frame of the project moves too quickly.
Even worse, task force members are having difficulty justifying the more than 300 miles of additional toll roads.
The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates is also concerned about the lack of information and time for M-CORES.
“With so little information about the tolls publicly available, it will take years for Florida residents to understand the extensive, negative impacts tolls will have on their communities,” ATFI spokesperson Stephanie Kane said. “Tolls are taxes, and when taxes go up, so does the costs of living and doing business. Contrary to claims the toll roads will promote growth and opportunity along these rural routes, tolls will undercut all of those efforts and hamstring future progress. These toll roads are a bad deal for Florida rural communities, businesses and lands.”
Each task force evaluation must meet the following criteria:
- Coordinate public and stakeholder involvement.
- Collect relevant data.
- Coordinate among agencies.
- Provide design recommendations.
- Submit avoidance minimization mitigation and enhancement (AMME) recommendations.
- Develop guiding principles and recommendations.
If the evaluations are considered feasible, construction will begin no later than Dec. 31, 2022.