Florida Legislature approves plan for three toll roads

May 9, 2019

Chuck Robinson

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Three new toll projects in Florida are on the verge of moving forward.

The Florida House has voted 76-36 to advance a bill to build one new toll road and extend two others. Passage clears the way for the bill to move to Gov. Ron DeSantis for approval. Senate lawmakers already approved the bill on a 37-1 vote.

Specifically, the legislation would authorize moving forward with 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 three projects have a price tag totaling $45 million in the proposed state budget. The cost would double next year and reach $132 million in 2021. The cost would reach $140 million beginning in 2022.

“These new infrastructure corridors will help Florida strategically plan for future population growth, revitalize rural communities, and enhance public safety,” Galvano said in prepared remarks.

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

The bill, SB7068, would have task forces meet publicly and study the three projects. Findings and recommendations would be provided to the Florida Department of Transportation. The agency would have the final say on how each project moves forward.

Construction would begin within three years. Completion of the projects would be set for 2030.

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.

Synchrony Financial