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By February, individuals interested in knowing the possible path of the Suncoast Corridor – the toll road that is slated to come into Jefferson County – should have a better idea of where it might be going.
Addressing the Monticello City Council on Tuesday evening, Jan. 7, JoAnna Hand, a project manager with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), told the council that by February, maps depicting a possible swath for the road should be available for public viewing.
A swath represents the general area where the road might go. The actual path would require further refining as the process proceeded, but the swath would give residents an idea of what areas might be impacted.
Hand said the printed swath should be available as early as Tuesday, Feb. 11, when the Suncoast Connector Task Force is scheduled to hold its fourth all-day meeting in Madison County.
The Suncoast Connector Task Force is a group made of representatives from the eight affected counties, plus FDOT personnel and other interested parties. The group is charged with setting the guiding principles for the project.
Or more specifically, per the official language, the group is tasked with studying “how the project design and land acquisition can mitigate the impact of construction on the water quality and quantity of springs, rivers and aquifer recharge areas, agricultural land uses and wildlife habitat.” The meeting in Madison is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Madison Church of God Life Center, located at 771 NE Colin Kelly Hwy.
Other important dates that Hand mentioned and that local residents might want to keep in mind or put in their calendars are March 12 and 24, when events related to the toll road will be held in Monticello.
On Thursday, March 12, the FDOT is scheduled to hold a Suncoast Corridor Community Open House at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, located at 325 W. Washington St. This event, which will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will offer all kinds of information on the project, as well as have individuals there to answer questions and show depictions of the swath.
On Tuesday, March 24, the task force is scheduled to hold its fifth all-day meeting here, starting at 9:30 a.m. and running through 4:30 p.m. This meeting will be held at the Monticello Church of the Nazarene, located at 1590 N. Jefferson St. The public is invited to attend.
Hand's comments were part of a brief update that she gave the council on what she called the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES).
M-CORES is the official name for three proposed toll roads – which per the legislation that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law in May, 2019 – are “intended to revitalize rural communities, encourage job creation and provide regional connectivity, while leveraging technology, enhancing the quality of life and public safety, and protecting the environment and natural resources.”
The three specific corridors are the Suncoast Connector, which would extend from the terminus of the Suncoast Parkway in Citrus County north to Jefferson County; the Northern Turnpike Connector, which would extend from the northern terminus of Florida's Turnpike northwest to the start of the Suncoast Parkway; and the Southwest-Central Florida Connector, which would extend from Collier County north to Polk County.
The FDOT was assigned with assembling the task forces that are studying the specific corridors.
For more information on the FDOT and the M-CORES, visit floridamcores.com.