Environmental organizations say no to new toll roads

Tiger Creek
M-CORES toll roads would further fragment Florida’s fragile remaining natural lands. Photo by Lisa Roberts

The Florida Wildflower Foundation has joined 109 other environmental organizations in signing a letter to the Florida Department of Transportation opposing the building of three new toll roads. The letter cites the failure of each proposed road’s task force to provide detailed comprehensive forecasts of future population, environmental and land use impacts, employment, traffic and usage rates.

Instead, detailed forecasts of the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) Program were provided by outside analysts that concluded the roads are financially infeasible.

In a letter to FDOT Sec. Kevin Thibault on Oct. 13, the organizations stated, “Cornell Consulting estimated construction alone to be $10.3 billion for the three new toll roads. Meanwhile, in assessing the economic impact of toll roads, they found that the average rate of return for highways today are diminishing compared to early periods and are simply not worth the cost.”

The letter also states that FDOT failed to validate the need for the roads, noting that FDOT’s claims that increasing road capacity would reduce congestion were unfounded.

Analysts found that all three M-CORES corridors would have huge impacts on the state’s remaining rural, agricultural and wild lands while fragmenting wildlife habitat and increasing wildlife collision with vehicles. The roads also would negatively affect the water flow and quality of beleaguered springs, streams, rivers and swamps, including the Everglades.

According to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition, which compiled and categorized comments submitted throughout the FDOT/M-CORES process, 93 percent of the public opposes continuing the M-CORES process.