Letters-to-the-Editor

August 2020

New toll roads aren’t a priority for Florida
By Sheila Calderon, Greenacres
Palm Beach Post
In a recent Point of View (July 27), a mother advocated for the proposed M-CORES (Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance) toll roads project by saying she would like her children to “live in a world that rebounds economically from the pandemic and is set up for success.” She is misguided. Agricultural land, vital to our state and national food security needs to be protected, not paved over. Florida’s existing infrastructure is crumbling; it is ranked 40th nationwide in overall cost-effectiveness and condition. That should be fixed before spending $117 million on new toll roads.


July 2020

Help schools safely reopen
By Harvey Goldstein, Gainesville
Gainesvile Sun
Do state Rep. Chuck Clemons and Sen. Keith Perry care about our kids, their parents and grandparents, teachers and our economy? If they did, why aren’t they in Tallahassee working to find the funds to pay for the resources to safely open our schools? For example, they could freeze funding for Everglades restoration, the money allocated for building the new toll roads through central Florida, tourist advertising, special corporate welfare projects, etc.

‘Highways to nowhere’ in state budget
By Theodore L. Brown, Bonita Springs
Fort Myers News-Press, Naples Daily News
In the recently released state budget, funding for the disastrous M-CORES (highways to nowhere) projects was saved. There’s not an individual line-item for M-CORES because the supporters of it wanted to make vetoing the project difficult. The estimated price tag to build 330 new miles of toll roads in Florida could top $20 billion. This is one of those decisions that, if it goes through, will be talked about in the future as an outrageous example of letting the monied class have their way while society pays a lasting price.

 

June 2020

 

May 2020

Use toll road funding
By DonnaLee Bushnell, Chiefland
Gainesville Sun, Sarasota Herald-TribunePalm Beach PostFlorida Times-UnionSt. Augustine RecordThe LedgerLeesburg Daily Commercial 
Excerpt: A very simple solution for Florida is to reallocate the billions that are currently designated to the M-CORES toll roads project, a project that no one in North Florida (except rich land owners/developers) seems to want. Imagine the level of learning activities and materials that could be developed for and by teachers to improve student learning; how many small group after-school tutoring lessons for students offered; and how many other creative ideas teachers could provide to enhance student learning in North Florida with this kind of cash infused into our school systems.

State should not build the toll roads

By Mary Shabbott, Punta Gorda

Port Charlotte Sun

I have participated in the public commenting at the MCores meetings regarding the proposed toll roads. Florida has/is losing more and more natural environment and species due to development. How can anyone support this greedy, special interest geared plot? It will be a disaster for this state and a death sentence to many species. No build!

Letter: Toll roads enrich bureaucrats not quality of life

By Catherine M. Casteel, Eagle Lake

The Ledger, Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach Daily News, Gainesville Sun, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Ocala Star-Banner, St. Augustine Record, Leesburg Daily Commercial, Winter Haven News Chief,

Polk County Commissioner Rick Wilson claims that a toll road/expressway will bring prosperity to Fort Meade and other “dead” towns [“Toll road planning moving too slowly,” March 8]. A toll road will bring cheap lodging, cheap eateries and cheap gas stations. It will not bring better schools, better health care or better quality of life. Which way, Florida? Richer bureaucrats or a better Florida?

Unnecessary highways

By Bill Frankenberger, Gainesville

Gainesville Sun

In an April 25 column, the president of Floridians for Better Transportation tried to make us believe that the proposed super highways across parts of our state are a good thing. And for anyone associated with development and road construction, they are. However, they would cause insurmountable problems such as increased loss of natural lands, fracturing of wildlife habitat, changes in hydrology, disruption of rural lifestyles and farmland, and increased air and water pollution. Having worked throughout Florida conducting natural resource management and research for 50 years, I have yet to talk to a rural resident who wants more development or vast change in living conditions.

We still need our three-minutes’ worth

By Andy Mele

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Excerpt; The matter of the toll roads to nowhere, instituted by this Legislature during the 2019 session, which will open up vast areas of Florida’s native habitats and agricultural lands to untrammeled development. No coherent need has as yet been articulated for these roads…Hearings are now being conducted by videoconference or webinar, with inadequate provisions for public input in many cases. Some local hearings are allowing written comment; some provide for phone input. The 14 Waterkeeper groups in Florida, and virtually every other public-interest nonprofit we know, regard webinars and videoconferences as an irresistible opportunity for sidestepping the need for public input in matters of public policy.

Thank you BOCC for listening to residents

Letter to the Editor

Chiefland Citizen

To the editor: I want to thank all of our commissioners. From the beginning our commissioners have asked for and received input from the residents of Levy County…As they have pointed out, we do not need these toll roads to provide much needed broadband access. We do not need these roads for hurricane evacuation when not everyone should evacuate in the face of a storm. We DO need to protect our rural quality of life. Both Commissioner Rock Meeks and Commissioner Matt Brooks are still on the Task Forces. They are hearing from not only the developers and contractors who see a need for the roads, but they are hearing from the many people, the majority of people, who do not see a need for these roads at this time.


April 2020

Useless roads

By Jay Bushnell, Chiefland

Gainesville Sun

The proposed “hurricane evacuation toll roads” would not mitigate the very thing that created the supposed excuse for these roads — that is climate change. Climate change is a reality that the Legislature finally officially acknowledged in 2018 Florida Statutes. These roads would also threaten the agricultural and environmental stability of rural Florida. In 2015, the Conservation Fund study of the Big Bend region of Florida stressed the economic importance of agricultural use of the region. Finally, evacuation of 20-plus million people makes no sense nor is it even recommended by responsible urban planners.

Celebrate the Earth

By Nancy Long, South Daytona

Daytona Beach News-Journal

Excerpt: Contact Gov. DeSantis and thank him for his leadership in this virus crisis, but then ask that he veto the “roads to nowhere” bill which creates three unnecessary toll roads cutting through rural communities and severing critical wildlife corridors; the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these roads to benefit a few landowners and developers would be better spent helping Florida recover from the “Virus Crisis.”

Lesson to be learned from failed canal

By Mike Rado, Sarasota

The Ledger

Building roads across environmentally sensitive land in Florida should raise red flags that remind us of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. This Florida boondoggle, which began as an economic recovery program in the 1930s, burned through $75 million by the time the project was abandoned, in 1971. It was never economically viable, caused significant environmental damage and survives today, with locks and dams and dredging that ruined a wild Florida river.

No more toll roads in Florida

By Jamie Dos Santos, Hollywood

South Florida Sun Sentinel

The Legislature’s approval last year of proposed toll roads in central Florida would rip apart some of the most important natural habitat and agricultural lands in Florida home to the Florida Panther, a critically endangered species.


March 2020

Toll road poses threat

By Ron Kamzelski, Cedar Key

Gainesville Sun

MCORES is a pathetic example of Florida greed being supported wholeheartedly by politicians, road builders, developers and the trucking industry. The proposed Suncoast corridor portion of the project will destroy the Nature Coast.


The Suncoast Connector Toll Road

By Mike Willis

ECB Publishing

We did not ask for this toll road and like most everyone to be affected by it we were completely unaware that such a project was even being considered until it had already been voted on and approved by the legislature.


February 2020

Letter to the editor: Proposed toll road

By James Glaser

Greene Publishing

The toll road that is coming to North Florida will not stop here.  Really, only a fool would build a toll road from South Florida that ends in Madison County…If what we want is people driving through our area to stop and spend some money, I believe the proposed toll road is not the right way to have that happen.


Local resident stresses more should be done to save Florida’s panthers

By Carl Veaux, Cape Coral

Pine Island Eagle

Excerpt: By the way, no toll roads in rural Florida. This equals even more panther deaths.What a waste of these beautiful Florida State official mammals.


January 2020

Who will really benefit?

By David Beck, Spring Hill

Tampa Bay Times

I’ve been following the proposal to extend the toll road system fairly closely. I’ve also been following how the panther population has been a regular victim of vehicle collisions and loss of habitat. With the proposed construction of the toll road extensions, loss of habitat and increased panther death due to vehicle collisions is a given. I have seen little written about these proposed toll roads that indicates a positive impact to the public, aside from the periodic use as evacuation routes.


Toll roads are a bad use of our tax dollars

By Janet Stanko, chair, Sierra Club Northeast Florida

Florida Times-Union

Excerpt: These unneeded “roads to ruin” will destroy large swaths of Florida’s last remaining rural lands, pollute waterways and threaten endangered wildlife, including the iconic Florida panther…Here’s the kicker: This project will cost in excess of $1 billion, taking funds from our schools, environment, health care and other public interest funding to benefit private interests who have negotiated this deal behind closed doors.

Water trumps roads

By Jan Smith, Lutz

Tampa Bay Times

Victoria Tschinkel’s column is a brilliant, clear and concise explanation for why we don’t need three toll roads destroying thousands of acres of agricultural land, wildlife corridors, and pristine environmental lands.

Florida cannot environmentally afford more toll roads

By Howard F. Harris Jr., Tampa

Tampa Bay Times

Excerpt: The facts show this state cannot environmentally afford more toll roads and expanded interstate highways. However, Floridians can alleviate its car induced environment problem and provide more affordable housing in our cities by building up instead of out and replacing useless decorative lawns requiring vast quantities of water and poisonous fertilizer with neighborhood parks.


December 2019

Oppose the toll roads

By Carol Pratt, Naples

Naples Daily News

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano continues to push for toll roads that would go through the state’s last remaining wilderness areas. There’s a very suspicious rush to get this done — and just to have it studied would cost taxpayers millions.

Unneeded toll roads will harm environment

By Donald Grisham, Winter Haven

Lakeland Ledger

I agree with Tom Palmer that the new proposed toll roads are not needed and will be harmful to the environment [“New toll roads won’t relieve congestion,” Nov. 10]. As a Florida resident since 1949, I have seen other projects that were ill-conceived, expensive, and finally abandoned at enormous expense to us taxpayers.


November 2019

We don’t want or need these roads

By Margaret Hyde, Clearwater

Tampa Bay Times

Excerpt:  Now, we have Sen. Bill Galvano (who may be the president of the Senate but is not a road expert) telling everyone we need three toll roads — without any studies, background checks, needs checks, cost checks, etc. He just wants the roads built even though the rural areas do not want these roads to ruin their areas and even though Georgia doesn’t even know “we are coming.” We will destroy the environment, we will destroy natural habitat, and we will destroy animal migrating paths. But even though we do not want them, we will have these roads because Bill Galvano wants them.

Toll road time frame is ridiculous

By Kim Wheeler, A concerned citizen who prefers starlight to headlights.

Williston Pioneer

Excerpt: I am a fiscally conservative environmentalist retired after 40 years in business. I do not understand the rush to build these roads. I want to see reasons and numbers. How can the legislature expect the task force members and the citizens affected by these projects to make decisions given little to no information…Our unique rural and wild landscape is the reason people come to Florida. Once paved over it is gone forever. Please speak up and protect the Florida we love.

Consider consequences of growth, long term

By William O. Smith, Sarasota

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

To accommodate this huge number of incoming residents, we are sacrificing farmland, pastures, wetlands and green space with ever increasing frequency for roads, homes and businesses. As if that is not enough, the state is pushing for three new toll roads through the center of the state.


Letter: Toll roads won’t fix what’s not broken

By C. C. “Doc” Dockery, Lakeland

Gainesville Sun, Palm Beach Post, Florida Times-Union, Ocala Star-Banner, St. Augustine Record, Leesburg Daily Commercial, Winter Haven News Chief, Palm Beach Daily News,

Tom Palmer hit the bullseye with his recent column, “The Nature of Things: New toll roads won’t relieve congestion,” [Nov. 10]. The fact is these roads are solutions in search of problems even if the problems are real in other parts of the state where the state’s limited transportation dollars really should be invested.


October 2019

Loss of Halpatiokee Trail to new bridge irreparable

By Joan Bausch, Stuart

TC Palm

I had so enjoyed the Little Halpatiokee Trail that has been obliterated by this new bridge. Her warning to us to pay attention and speak up for the possible loss of conservation land to the development of new roads is an important issue as the Department of Transportation’s M-CORES process has begun.

Toll roads across nature?

By Carol Pratt, Golden Gate Estates

Naples Daily News

Gov. DeSantis makes big news about cleaning up Florida’s water, but approving and fast-tracking toll roads that would go through lakes, rivers and tributaries, and promote development of these areas, will undo all the things he says he wants to do for the environment. The occurrences and magnification of blue-green algae and red tide events will only increase with the urbanization of Florida’s last natural places.


Toll roads of broad concern

By Carol Pratt, Golden Gate Estates

Marco Island Eagle

The proposed toll roads for Florida should worry more than just “environmentalists.” If you hike, fish, hunt or just want clean air and water, you should be worried as well.


Letters: New Florida toll roads should not be on DeSantis ‘good’ environmental list

By Richard Freseman, North Palm Beach

Palm Beach Post

A recent Palm Beach Post editorial pointed to positive things that Gov. Ron DeSantis has been doing for the state of Florida with regard to our water resources. The list was impressive until it came to the part about his support for toll roads to be built through environmentally sensitive lands. Does the governor truly believe that these natural areas would be undamaged by such a project?


September 2019

Toll roads to ruin

By Susan Steinhauser, Coconut Creek

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Excerpt: Money that should be spent on education, health care, infrastructure, and green technology development, will be used to pave over 52,800 acres of undeveloped land, destroying precious wetlands that are essential to Floridians’ access to clean water. As Hurricane Dorian churns off our coast and pummels our beaches, I struggle to understand how Gov. Ron DeSantis signed these bills, knowing that these funds would be better spent educating and protecting Floridians instead of building these roads to ruin.


Toll roads aren’t the answer

By Laurel Urena, Tampa

Tampa Bay Times

I want to voice my staunch opposition to yet more needless toll roads being proposed. I’m dismayed at the leaders’ lack of vision for sustainable development and for protecting all Floridians — human and non-human. These toll roads would be disastrous. 


2019, not the 1950s

By Jonathan Kile, St. Petersburg

Tampa Bay Times

It’s clear these task forces exist to rubber-stamp an antiquated 1950s style of development. We know that these roads bring the kind of sprawl people don’t want to live in. We know that they hurt small businesses in the towns that they bypass. We know that they will destroy what’s left of the Florida environment.


Where will they move to?

By Robert Smith, Tampa

Tampa Bay Times

Excerpt: Mr. Galvano makes the claim that a “key task will be protection and enhancement of wildlife corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.” Please remember that this is the Florida Legislature he is talking about. This is the same elected body that has completely ignored the will of the people concerning environmental protection and the acquisition of sensitive properties. This is the same Florida Legislature that is completely in the thrall of deep-pocketed lobbyists and that routinely ignores the will of the voters.


Don’t ‘rescue’ them

By John Inglis, Palm Harbor

Tampa Bay Times

I’m surprised, but encouraged, that perhaps we might be able to stop the madness someday: Local leaders whose rural areas would be impacted by proposed toll roads stood against being “rescued” and spoke of their desire to remain rural. Endless growth is an unsustainable plan supported by developers/politicians most interested in near-term profits.


Done deal

By Richard DesChenes, Archer

Gainesville Sun

Excerpt: Wetlands, rivers, springs, ranches and farms will be no obstacle for the bulldozers and paving machines. This will be the biggest debacle since the ill-conceived and ill-fated cross-state barge canal.


Soon to be underwater

By Mike MacDonald, Clearwater

Tampa Bay Times

These were some excellent discussions about the proposed new toll roads. But one extremely important consideration was neglected: In all probability, these new “transportation corridors” and developments will be waterfront property as the result of ocean rise due to climate change.


The toll of new corridors

By Walter (Buck) Fuller, Bushnell

Tampa Bay Tiomes

Excerpt: We don’t need more “roads to nowhere.”…Dad used to say, “No matter what anybody says, it’s all about the money.” The main proponents of these projects seem to be road builders, internet providers and political empire builders, not exactly an unbiased contingent.


Urbanization of Florida

By Bill Kitsch, East Naples

Marco Island Eagle

Excerpt: The plan “Build it and they will come” is to virtually fill in the blanks in Florida. U.S. 41 — the Tamiami Trail — down the west side of the state is already a megalopolis for the most part. The east coast is shot too, and the DeSantis toll roads through the middle of the Sunshine State will create the same experience, town after town after town. Cape Coral drive times for everybody.


Letter: Tampa Cemetery, new toll roads

By Jean Kathleen Ranallo, Englewood

Port Charlotte Sun

Excerpt: The Sun reporter, Betsy Calvert, points out that the proposal to build such toll roads “has been rejected many times before.” One wonders what palms have been greased. Who has to gain from toll roads that waste time and gas, hamper commerce and travel, and are occasions for craft and accidents? Having no definite route set out leaves much more room for corruption as land owners vie to have their field or swamps bought at top dollar


Letters: Florida shooting deaths more concerning than new tollways

By Helen Frigo, Jensen Beach

Palm Beach Post

Just like that, Florida’s new senate president (Bill Galvano, R-Sarasota) called for three new tollways, and Republicans fell in line. Plans are on the way, money’s allotted. The Florida Senate president has now become concerned at ever-growing increases in mass shooting deaths. Yet all he does is call for more hearings, more testimony from witnesses, experts, etc. Where’s a simple ban on new purchases of military-grade assault weapons?

Limit toll-road access

By Ima Ditmore, Gainesville

Gainesville Sun

In response to a Sept. 16 letter regarding new toll roads through rural Florida: The rural nature of many counties should be preserved, if that is what the counties’ populations want and what is good for Florida. But how could that be done with toll roads that normally lead to development?


August 2019

‘Toll roads to nowhere’ are not the way to pave Florida’s future
By Jane Sellick, Palmetto
Tampa Bay Times
August 28, 2019
Excerpt: During public comments at the first meeting in Tampa, the one Thibault kicked off with his declaration of total support, many speakers from environmental groups and just ordinary citizens made impassioned speeches with excellent points about the predictable negative impacts of these roads on Florida’s future. But it looks like the secretary has already decided his agency’s position and, just like Senate President Bill Galvano, is ready to railroad them through.

 

June 2019

Toll road from Polk County to Collier County is the highway to pork: your say
By Raymond Brooks, Fort Myers
Fort Myers News-Press
June 13, 2019
It’s all about money. It’s about generous contractors, big landowner friends, and politicians trolling for humongous campaign contributions just to name a few. Surprised? It’s pork barrel to the max.


May 2019


More toll roads across Florida?
By Teri Bridge, Bradenton
Naples Daily News
May 21, 2019
Senate Bill 7068, signed by Gov. DeSantis, begins the planning for three new toll roads in Florida. If built, those roads would crisscross the state’s rural and critically endangered wildlife corridors. Is this a good thing?

 

Counting on governor to put up roadblock
By Sean Sellers, Sarasota
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
May 6, 2019
This is a moment of truth for Gov. Ron DeSantis. With limited public debate, Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has maneuvered his pet project through the Legislature. Senate Bill 7068 authorizes the construction of three massive toll roads. The plan is remarkably flawed.

 

April 2019

 

Local Sierra Club leader opposes more toll roads
By Janet Stanko, Jacksonville
Florida Times-Union
April 9, 2019
The Florida Legislature is considering a proposal to build toll roads in the following three corridors, all of which run through undeveloped areas: