Florida Senate strikes blow against massive toll road expansion plan

click to enlarge Florida Senate strikes blow against massive toll road expansion plan
Photo via Formulanone/Flickr

The state of Florida appeared willing and ready to spoil the precious few acres of undeveloped land left in service of toll roads back in 2019.

That's when they approved a bill meant to kickstart the development of three massive road construction projects.  The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (or M-CORES) plan would extend the Suncoast Parkway all the way to Georgia, connect the Florida Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway and creating an entirely new highway between Polk and Collier Counties. The largest expansion of the intrastate highway system in six decades came at the cost of a ton of unspoiled wilderness (without even getting into the induced demand and encouragement of sprawling development that such high-speed arteries create). In a surprising move, (for Floridian politics, at least), the Senate has reversed course.

Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, pushed and passed a bill to put the kibosh on the M-CORES plan. Harrell urged the Florida Department of Transportation to use the money that would have been spent on the new highways to improve and maintain existing infrastructure. The plan passed in the Senate, but no such bill has been introduced in the House.

The action by the legislature might be a blow to Florida's richest man, Thomas Peterffy. The megadonor of Ron DeSantis owned a massive amount of the land scheduled to be developed for the road to Georgia. His holdings in Taylor County are vast, having been called "the largest continuous piece of undeveloped property in private hands east of the Mississippi River." Purchase of the land by the state would have been a windfall for the billionaire.

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