Alachua County rejects state's plan for new toll roads

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to reject plans to build new toll roads across the state.

Florida's Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Significance (M-CORES) would construct 330 miles of new tolls roads through rural parts of the state. 

The project, approved by the Legislature in 2019, would extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to Jefferson County at the northern end of the state. along with an extension of the Florida Turnpike from Wildwood to connect with the Suncoast Parkway and the construction of a new multi-use corridor, including a toll road, from Polk County to Collier County. 

The decision was greeted with praise of nature preservation advocate groups.

“Alachua County is showing bold leadership by opposing this destructive boondoggle, which could be a death blow to iconic species like the Florida panther,” said Sarah Gledhill, a Florida-based senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “By standing up to special interests, these elected officials sided with the hundreds of Alachuans who spoke out in favor of protecting our environment and rural communities from being paved over.”

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“We are so glad to see the Alachua County commissioners move to protect their citizens from a gross state overreach with their M-CORES ‘no build’ resolution,” said Michael Roth of Our Santa Fe River. “The Suncoast Connector is a major threat to flora and fauna throughout the region and a threat to the rural lifestyle. It is an economic and environmental boondoggle that is rationalized to the paying public on the most specious and arguable grounds. We hope other counties in the region follow suit.”

The toll road plan has also been the focus of Tallahassee-based Florida TaxWatch, which weighs in on numerous state fiscal issues.  TaxWatch has called the proposed 150-mile Suncoast Connector, a “risky project with a significant price tag and little transportation need.”

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The legislation, a priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, eventually dedicates up to $101.7 million a year to the roads.