ECB Publishing, Inc.
The proposed toll road through Jefferson County is capturing some citizens' attention, as well as creating a little concern.
Bill Howard, a citizen who appeared before the Monticello City Council recently, advised the officials to be proactive and get involve in the determination of the proposed toll highway's route. He noted that the preliminary indications were that the road would tie into U.S. 19 at Capps and travel north into Georgia.
“It's supposed to be finished in 10 years,” Howard said. “So you need to start talking to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) now to see how it's going to handle the traffic.”
Howard said if the issue wasn't properly addressed, the volume of traffic on the road would rattle the courthouse and Opera House and do damage to these historic structures.
“You need a bypass,” Howard said. “The route will have to bypass Monticello.”
Mayor John Jones discounted any need for urgency, noting that the toll road was still years away, if it ever came. Howard, however, disagreed.
“I encourage you to start talking to the FDOT early, before it's sprung on you.” he said. “I'm warning you early.”
Meanwhile, Commission Chairwoman Betsy Barfield and Clerk of Court Kirk Reams traveled to Tampa on Tuesday, Aug. 27, to participate in one of three task forces formed by the FDOT to study the respective toll roads, called Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES).
Barfield and Reams are Jefferson County's appointed representatives on the task force, which is assigned to study the corridor that is supposed to cross Jefferson County.
The general goal of the task forces – per the legislation passed in the last session – is to do analyses of the environmental, land-use and other impacts of the proposed corridors on each of the communities that they cross. The three task forces have until Oct. 1, 2020, to submit written reports of their findings to the state, with the corridors' constructions projected to start “no later than Dec. 31, 2022,” and the roads to open to traffic “no later than Dec. 31, 2030.”
The three proposed toll corridors are the SunCoast Connector, which would extend from its present terminus in Citrus County and proceed north through Jefferson County and into Georgia; the Southwest-Central Florida Connector, which would extend from Collier County to Polk County; and the Northern Turnpike Connector, which would extend from the northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike northwest to the SunCoast Parkway.
The proposed toll roads are opposed by scores of civic, conservation and environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, 1,000 Friends of Florida, Friends of the Everglades, League of Women Voters of Florida and Tall Timber.
Supporters of the projects include road and home builders, engineers, and trade groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Transportation and Builders Association and the Florida Trucking Association.
Besides providing funding for road building, the legislation includes money for water, sewer and broadband internet access, which are generally viewed as “the building blocks of any massive development.”