Why No Roads to Ruin?

In 2019, the Florida state legislature passed a bill to authorize the design and construction of three new toll roads through the heart of rural Florida. Although Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was technically repealed by SB 100 during the 2021 legislative session, only one (the Southwest-Central Florida Connector) of the three roads to ruin was vanquished. The other two, the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension and modifications to US 19 remain threats.

The Northern Turnpike Extension (NTE) planning process began in autumn 2021. This Northern Turnpike Extension was a disastrous idea when it was proposed in 2019 under the M-CORES banner, and it remains so today.

If built, this extension would destroy large swaths of Florida’s last remaining rural lands, threaten waterways with pollution, endanger iconic wildlife, disrupt farmlands, and promote unsustainable sprawl. It is no surprise that of nearly 10,000 comments submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) regarding proposed M-CORES toll routes, 93% were opposed.

FDOT’s current approach to SB 100 completely ignores (1) the overwhelming public opposition, (2) the M-CORES Northern Turnpike Corridor Task Force’s failure to find any need for a northern extension of the turnpike, (3) the M-CORES Northern Turnpike Corridor Task Force’s findings on the fragility of the region’s environmental and agricultural resources, and (4) the reality that this folly is wasting, once again, precious Florida taxpayer dollars.

The proposed corridors are:

Suncoast Connector

Suncoast Connector extending north from Citrus County to the Georgia border.

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Northern Turnpike Connector

Northern Turnpike Connector extending from the Suncoast Connector to the Florida Turnpike.

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Southwest-Central Connector

Southwest-Central Florida Connector extending from Polk County to Collier County.

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Florida’s remaining natural areas are worth more than the sum of their parts. Residents in counties like Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter know that when we start paving over our rural heritage and wild places, there is no turning back.

No one, including the state’s transportation planners at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), asked for these toll roads. Advocates of this multi-billion dollar mega project make false promises of illusory benefits and offer reasoning that cannot be substantiated. Meanwhile, funding these unneeded and damaging roads ignores actual, pressing needs of the state and its citizens toward which the tax dollars should be directed. As a state faced with the impacts of a changing climate and increased population, it is dangerous folly to waste tax dollars on outdated and unneeded infrastructure. Building toll roads is not the path forward. We need to shift from the 20th century development model of highways and suburban sprawl to modern and sustainable solutions for our 21st century that protect our water and natural resources first. This is how we will prepare for a better future. Recognizing that these roads will only bring ruin, we have formed a grassroots campaign with the goal of opposing these roads and making sure they are never built. We invite you to stand with the No Roads to Ruin Coalition and our commitment to stop these roads in their tracks.