If you read the Statute Title XXVI Chapter 338 LIMITED ACCESS AND TOLL FACILITIES you will know what the law says, what it specifically addresses and what the process is to manage the program and gather inputs. Please go to their website (www.FloridaMCORES.com). There you will find lots of useful information based on the statute, program and process. They have an interactive map that can turn on and off the various types of land and water designations, existing roads and much more. It is real and fact based versus what some in our community are saying. Here are some highlights of the differences I thought would be useful to dispel some of the fears being spread.
CLAIM – Toll Road will follow 98 and go north through wildlife management destroying the environment, habitat and hunting. Truth is at this time no one knows the routes until Department of Transportation communicates the possible ones after January.
CLAIM – Toll Road will connect to Georgia. The statute says nothing about connecting to Georgia. Could it connect at some point in the distant future? Yes, it’s a possibly, but only after the traffic demand is high enough and interstate criteria are met. This isn’t likely for the next 10 to 20 years.
CLAIM – We have nothing to lose if the Toll Road doesn’t terminate in Jefferson. The statute lays out the answer to this clearly. Over four fiscal years for counties where the toll road goes there is access to $7,000,000 for workforce development and $40,000,000 EACH to SCRAP (Small County Assistance Program) and SCOP (Small County Outreach Program) and Disadvantaged Transportation. Disadvantaged includes people with disabilities and people who have no means of transportation.
Another area of loss is from future tax revenues new business and residential developments would have generated. This means lost future income to the city, county and the school district so tax rates stay where they are and our schools continue their financial struggles.
CLAIM – Toll Road won’t help hurricane evacuation and newer advice is to stay in place or travel away some tens of miles. Reality is that hurricanes are a fact and category 5 hurricanes can happen anywhere along the gulf coast. Hurricane Michael, only just a year ago, was devastating and not that far from us. If you stay in place for a cat5 you will have a hurricane Katrina superdome scenario and if you have to escape you need roads. A couple of years back Jacksonville was threatened and I-10 was jammed for hours. We had a young family from there stay with us for four days who said it took over 5 hours to go the normally 2 hour drive.
CLAIM – Toll Road is not a good investment. Transportation is an investment in the future. You must consider the toll road from the position of responsibility for the whole state. Florida is looking out more than 20 years beyond the completion date of 2030 so the timeframe is 2050 and beyond. At current rates of population growth (330,605 per year) we will have added 9,918,150 new residents by 2050. Florida must grow its economy to keep pace and that means a commensurate transportation system for moving people and goods between regions and maximizing the multimodal network of air, sea and land ports.
We must work with the process to give guidance and assure protection of the things we love while embracing a different future. I say this because the future will be different no matter what we do. We are moving to 2050 and away from 1950.