**PRESS RELEASE** WHO PUT NTE DOWN FOR THE COUNT? Who will keep it down? 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

August 16, 2022 

Contact:  Michael McGrath, michael.mcgrath@sierraclub.org, 386-341-4708

**PRESS RELEASE**

WHO PUT NTE DOWN FOR THE COUNT?

Who will keep it down? 

OCALA–No Roads to Ruin Coalition leaders gathered today to have the last word on the Florida Department of Transportation’s announcement of a “pause” for the Northern Turnpike Extension project before the upcoming primary and general elections.  “No Build” community activists from Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties minced no words when (1) sharing their resolve to stop each and every attempt to ram a new toll road through rural Florida; and (2) responding to the legislators who voted for the politically-driven 2019 and 2021 bills that created the costly M-CORES and the Northern Turnpike Extension threats to their communities.

Kim Wheeler, one of the first activists in Levy County to start organizing her neighbors stated: “This is good news, but we must remember that this was legislated, not a normal FDOT project. Now during this pause we need to elect leaders who will listen to us and protect our rural way of life, our Nature Coast” 

Royal activist Kathy Towns said: “The state previously bisected our community putting I-75 through Royal and it is unacceptable for politicians to try and put highways through our African American community like they have time and time again. Royal would have been ground zero for the Northern Turnpike Extension: Each of the four proposed routes would have cut Royal in half, dividing the fabric of a loving and caring community that has been there for generations. There are no viable corridors for Historic Royal and we expect FDOT and state leadership to continue to hold their word and nix the Turnpike Extension.”

“I'm personally grateful for the amazing grassroots movement that has brought the NTE project to a pause. All the time and efforts of engaged citizens and communities are proof of our commitment to conservation and preservation. This pause has solidified my resolve, we will always stand to protect rural lifestyle and the Nature Coast. No toll roads, not here, not over there, not now, not ever.” added Levy County resident Laura Parks Catlow.

Kristin Parson of Dunnellon said: “FDOT’s announcement to “pause” the NTE was a huge victory for Florida’s treasured Nature Coast and all who are fighting to protect it. Tallahassee Legislators need to respect home rule and the values voters in the region are fighting to protect. We stand united to protect the American Dream: our homes, farms, ranches, wildlife, forests, and springs. But our work is not done: All four counties will continue to work together to prevent a new toll road here, there, or anywhere in Florida’s Nature Coast paradise. We will use our votes to elect leaders to save the future of our lands and natural resources.” 

Karen Esty of Inverness stated:  “Our legislators have attempted to push their agenda against the wishes of the taxpayers - The Coastal Connector, M-CORES and the Northern Turnpike Extension. The legislators should understand the three strike rule - You’re out.” 

Dr. Burt Eno, who has served as president of Rainbow River Conservation for 16 years, said he was horrified to find that two of the proposed turnpike extension routes ran right across the primary recharge basin of the Rainbow River. “Turnpike extensions to the Nature Coast are not needed and would only destroy many homes, farmlands, and wildlife corridors, and further pollute our diminishing supply of fresh water. Let the FDOT concentrate on improving existing infrastructure and quit trying to pave over every square foot of the state. Let’s coexist with what is left of our natural environment.”

Maxine Connor, representing the Citrus County League of Women Voters stated: “The League is thankful that FDOT listened to local governments, local organizations, and the public when making the choice to shift away from cutting any new corridors through rural Florida and instead dedicating resources to prioritize improvements on the Interstate 75 corridor.  However, FDOT's use of the word ‘pause’ regarding this matter is not the same as the word ‘stop.’  We must all ensure we remain vigilant of any studies, processes, or legislation ahead so that we are able to stay involved in any public input process to stop the creation of these needless, expensive, and environmentally damaging roads.”

“This is not only a victory for residents in Tillman’s Hammock, Royal, Wildwood, and Sumter County, it is a victory for local government decision-makers in places like Citrus, Levy, and Dunnellon who represented the will of their voters and took a hard line against this toll road proposal and cemented themselves on the right side of history, saving Sumter residents after our own Commissioners failed to be our ‘voice.’ As a Sumter voter, I think it’s time we elected a new slate of commissioners for Sumter County who actually represent long-time residents, and not developers.” stated, Tillman’s Hammock activist Gay Lynn Light.

The fact that the 2019 and 2021 bills creating the threat of destruction to so many rural Florida communities were sponsored by legislators from outside of the 4-county area wasn’t lost on anyone.  Michael McGrath, Sierra Club Organizing Representative added:  “Senator Gayle Harrell told a reporter last week that FDOT ‘will find another way of doing this–they are not giving up on this.’  Come on Senator Harrell, we weren’t born yesterday.  It isn’t FDOT, but rather legislators like you who want to keep this really bad, really expensive idea going.  All of us, taxpayers everywhere in the state, should be holding you and the rest of our state legislators accountable.”

VISUALS:

Video, Video, Video

Photo, Photo, Photo

Facebook Live recording  

BACKGROUND:  In 2019 the bill creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, and while M-CORES was technically repealed in 2021, the threat of a proposed Northern Turnpike Extension remained, and in the autumn of 2021, four potential routes of the Northern Turnpike Extension were announced.  After almost a full year of historic levels of organizing across Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties, and the adoption of “No Build” resolutions by by the Levy County Commission, Citrus County Commission, Dunnellon City Council, Inverness City Council, Inglis Town Commission, Yankeetown Council, and Bronson Town Council, the Florida Department of Transportation announced on August 4, 2022 that it was pausing the project due to its failure to identify any viable corridor.

Go to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition website for more information. 

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**PRESS RELEASE** Department Pauses Northern Turnpike Extension Project Good news, but where are the devilish details?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

August 4, 2022 

Contact:  Michael McGrath, michael.mcgrath@sierraclub.org, 386-341-4708

**PRESS RELEASE**

Department Pauses Northern Turnpike Extension Project

Good news, but where are the devilish details?

WILDWOOD—After cryptic and conflicting news leaks over the last 24 hours, today the Florida Department of Transportation announced a “pause” to the Northern Turnpike Extension Project.

In response, the No Roads to Ruin Coalition Steering Committee released the following:

“The subheading of the FDOT press release states:  ‘Florida Turnpike Enterprise Alternative Corridor Evaluation Study Concludes with no Viable Proposed Corridors.’  This is no doubt the best news the No Roads to Ruin community has received since M-CORES reared its ugly head in 2019.  

This ‘pause,’ whatever it may mean, is directly related to the mobilization of the Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter county voters who dared to refuse to take ‘toll’ for an answer, and the adoption of ‘No Build’ resolutions by the Levy Board of County Commission, Citrus Board of County Commission, Dunnellon City Council, Inverness City Council, Inglis Town Commission, Yankeetown Council, and Bronson Town Council.

Of special note in the FDOT announcement was the statement:  ‘FDOT appreciates all the input and efforts from the local communities, government partners, and stakeholders.’  This wholly undercuts Sumter and Marion County commissioner claims that passing a ‘No Build’ resolution would destroy their relationships with FDOT.

But after more than three years of fighting the varied proposed new toll roads toward getting a ‘No Build’ or ‘No Action’ decision from FDOT/FTE, we are unclear about how ‘no viable proposed corridors’ relates to the current Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study and a no build/no action decision.  

We have other questions including:  How does this ‘pause’ impact the Department’s statutory requirements related to the status report due to the Governor and Legislature by the end of this year?  Is the Department required, or planning to, complete the PD&E study?  How long will the voters of Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties have to wait until the threat of this project is eliminated?  

We are gravely concerned that the announcement ended with ‘the project’s website, www.floridasturnpike.com/NTE, will remain active as a resource for project updates.’  This does not send a signal to our community that the project is dead, and until FDOT makes its position crystal clear, we will remain vigilant and involved.

Finally, this is no reprieve for elected officials in the 4-county region, or at the state level, who must continue to prove to their constituents that they will protect them from this unneeded, unwanted, costly, politically-driven boondoggle.  It won’t be over until the project is finally laid to rest.”

BACKGROUND:  In 2019, the bill creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, and while M-CORES was technically repealed in 2021, the menace of a proposed Northern Turnpike Extension has remained.

Go to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition website for more information. 

###

Read the PDF of the press release here.


No Roads to Ruin Coalition Statement Regarding Potential NTE Discontinuation from FDOT

In case you haven’t heard, there are unconfirmed reports of FDOT “discontinuing,” “rescinding,” and even “abandoning” the 4 proposed Northern Turnpike Extension routes.

One thing we know with certainty:  The "No Build" resolutions, and all of your tireless work across the region, are the reasons we are getting closer to a complete victory.

But as of this moment, there are many things that we do not know:

We do not know exactly what FDOT is going to announce (different sources are saying conflicting things).  The news clips thus far are below.  As of this moment, nothing official has been released to the public by FDOT/FTE. 

We do not know if the FDOT announcement, when it comes, will be straightforward and easy to understand. 

  • If FDOT announces that a “No Build” (No Action) decision has resulted from the PD&E Study process for all of the proposed/potential routes, then that is what we have been fighting for and it is a clear victory.
  • If FDOT announces anything less or more complicated than a “No Build” decision, the devil will be in the details.
  • If FDOT's response is for another different toll road route through Bronson/along US-27, or through any other community, the Coalition's work is not over.  

The NRTR mission has always been to achieve a “no build” decision from FDOT, or a legislative defeat, of every potential NTE route.  Our mission IS NOT to compromise.

Our mission includes the fight to stop any new toll road that may become a proposed alternative to the already-proposed routes.  Any toll road connecting I-75 to US 19/98 will mean it is that much more likely for the US 19/98 corridor to get a tollway, and our mission has always included stopping the tolling of the US 19/98 corridor.

We will continue to fly the “not in anybody’s backyard” banner.

News clips:

Just Wright Citrus 

By Mike Wright

JUST NOW: The state has put a pause on plans for the Northern Turnpike Extension and will instead concentrate on improving I-75, according to solid information I received and confirmed Wednesday afternoon. FDOT is expected to announce in a news release as soon as this weekend that it is no longer considering the four potential routes.

Florida won't pursue 4 proposed routes for possible northern turnpike extension

By Jim Ross and Austin L. Miller

Ocala Star-Banner

The state Department of Transportation has told elected officials in northern Central Florida that the agency is no longer pursuing four proposed routes for a possible northern extension of Florida's Turnpike. Instead, the state will concentrate on improving Interstate 75.

Massullo: State scraps four proposed turnpike corridors

By Michael D. Bates

Citrus County Chronicle

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has abandoned the four corridors it was considering for a northern turnpike extension and is looking at different options, state Rep. Ralph Massullo told the Chronicle late Wednesday.

FDOT puts brakes on Suncoast Parkway northern expansion

Staff Report

Spectrum News

The Florida Department of Transportation appears to be abandoning plans for an expansion of some northern Florida toll roads.

Northern Turnpike Extension Routes Get the Axe; State to Focus on I-75

By Terry Witt

Spotlight on Levy County

Levy County Commissioner John Meeks confirmed Wednesday that the Florida Turnpike Enterprise has rescinded its study of four proposed Northern Turnpike Extension routes and will focus on I-75 instead.

 

No Roads to Ruin Steering Committee: 

Cris Costello

Senior Organizing Manager

Sierra Club

2127 S. Tamiami Trail

Osprey, FL 34229

941-914-0421

cris.costello@sierraclub.org

 

Mark Ferrulo

Executive Director

Progress Florida

mark@progressflorida.org 

727-289-2612 office

 

Patrick Rose

Executive Director

Save the Manatee Club

500 N. Maitland Ave.

Maitland, FL 32751

Office: 407-539-0990 

 

Ryan Smart

Florida Springs Council

P.O. Box 268

High Springs, FL 32655

smart@floridaspringscouncil.org 

 

Julianne Thomas

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

1495 Smith Preserve Way

Naples, FL  34102

juliannet@conservancy.org

 

Jonathan Webber

Deputy Director

Florida Conservation Voters (FCV)

jwebber@fcvoters.org

(850) 629-4656


**PRESS RELEASE** “NO BUILD” REVERBERATES ACROSS SUMTER COUNTY Every Corner of Sumter Joins Forces to Defeat Turnpike Threat

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

July 26, 2022 

Contact:  Levi Solomon, levisolomon@aol.com, 352-406-6628

Allison Baltzersen, abaltzersen@gmail.com, 305-393-7806

Michael McGrath, michael.mcgrath@sierraclub.org, 386-341-4708

**PRESS RELEASE**

“NO BUILD” REVERBERATES ACROSS SUMTER COUNTY

Every Corner of Sumter Joins Forces to Defeat Turnpike Threat

The Villages—On Tuesday, July 26, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners meeting was once again the scene of unprecedented local organizing across neighborhoods, political lines, generations, and business interests when No Roads to Ruin activists from Royal, Tillman's Hammock, Oxford, Wildwood, The Villages, and beyond gathered to demand that their elected commissioners represent the interests of those in danger of being run over by a Northern Turnpike Extension.  A press conference and a “No Build” activist-filled commission chamber marked the occasion.

Speakers at the press conference represented communities directly impacted by any route of the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension:

Royal resident Kathy Towns said:  “I am a proud resident of the beautiful community of Royal, Florida, thriving on the land passed down from my ancestors. This Turnpike Extension would destroy our community’s history and future. It needs to be stopped, which is why I'm for the 'No Build' option." 

Another longtime Royal resident Levi Solomon stated “The community Royal has a great history but in 1964, I-75 split our community in half. The Turnpike Extension will further dissect our community.  Lives will be changed forever, again! We are a community that loves and supports each other.  The peace and joy that we know now will be no more.  Families will be split, churches over 100 years old, a Cemetery, and farms–all will be dismantled. These are some of the reasons I'm asking the Sumter County Commission to support the ‘No Build’ Resolution.”

Tillman's Hammock resident Rick Stagg said:  “Tillman's Hammock way of life is being threatened by the new proposed turnpike extension plan.  Multiple generations have worked and tolled to build their homesteads.  This may all be taken away from us which is why we are fighting for the 'No Build' option.  It's time our County Commissioners and state leaders listened and represented us," while another Tillman’s Hammock resident, Allison Baltzersen added “The Citrus and Levy county commissions have already sent ‘No Build’ resolutions to FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, saying ‘no’ to the turnpike extension in their counties.  It is time for Sumter to do the same.” 

A crowd of 35 of “No Build-No Turnpike Extension” t-shirt donning, “Rural Florida Says No Toll Roads” and “No Build” sign waving Sumter County community leaders attended the press conference and then marched into the Commission chambers to make themselves heard, once again, during the public comment period, because like the last time No Roads to Ruin activists rallied at the Sumter County Commission meeting (on June 14), the Northern Turnpike Extension was not on the Commissioners’ agenda.  But that did not deter the “No Build” crowd of at least 120 Sumter voters from spelling out the ways any turnpike extension route would cleave through vulnerable communities and sensitive environmental lands, and sharing their dismay at the Commission’s failure, to date, to protect them by sending a clear “No Build” message to the Florida Turnpike Enterprise and Florida Department of Transportation.  The call was repeated over and over again for the Sumter Commissioners to pass their own No Build resolution, presented to the commissioners for the first time on June 14, versions of which have already adopted by the Levy Board of County Commissioners, Citrus Board of County Commissioners, Dunnellon City Council, Inverness City Council, Inglis Town Commission, and Yankeetown Council, in most if not all cases unanimously.

After nearly two hours of public comment, the Commissioners took no action, but County Administrator Bradley Arnold did share that during the M-CORES task force process, “95%” of public commenters were opposed to the new toll roads. 

What should have been a simple exercise of the rights of Sumter residents to voice their concerns, became a drama the day before, when after having offered a room in the Everglades Regional Recreation Center for the press conference the week before, the Recreation & Parks Department of The Villages contacted the No Roads to Ruin Coalition on Monday and rescinded their room offer with little time to make new plans.  Michael McGrath, Sierra Club Organizing Representative, was told that although the Board of County Commissioners meets there, “the Everglades recreation center is a private building run by The Villages and as such, The Villages personnel may escort us off the premises if we don’t have a room reservation, and remove us from the parking lot, sidewalk, or entranceway if they consider us an impediment to traffic flow.”  When further conversation with department personnel did not result in a remedy, event organizers decided to hold the 20-minute press conference on the grassy area alongside the bocce courts and parking lot.  The ultimate reason for rescinding the offer of a meeting room was given as “the smaller rooms have already been reserved by Sumter County for overflow as they are expecting a large crowd to this meeting.”

McGrath said:  “After all that, those who showed up to the press conference were allowed to proceed without removal, but we will never know if the nonsense put a damper on attendance. What we know for sure is that it left a bad taste in the mouths of Sumter County voters who expect better from their county commissioners.” 

VIDEO/PHOTOS/AUDIO:

Press conference crowd photo, crowd photo close up, banner photo, Nix the NTE photo, Royal speaker video, Tillman’s Hammock speaker video

Commission chamber photo 

County Administrator Bradley Arnold audio clip following public comment.  

BACKGROUND:  In 2019, the bill creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, and while M-CORES was technically repealed in 2021, the threat of a proposed Northern Turnpike Extension remains.

In February, the Sumter Commission and Wildwood City Council jointly sent a letter petitioning Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise to modify the "Alternative Corridor Center" route to put it in close proximity to CR 475 North of SR 44 to CR 245E.  That action has been universally unpopular; any route emanating from the current endpoint of the Florida Turnpike would severely impact the communities of Royal, Wildwood, Tillman’s Hammock, and Oxford in Sumter County.  Go to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition website for more information. 

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Read the PDF of the press release here.


Citrus County pushes no-build option for turnpike extension

“Still, to this day, I’ve heard no one in favor,” Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. said.

Former Commissioner Josh Wooten, president and chief executive officer of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, said business support is “lukewarm.”

“We can’t get to no-build yet, but we’re rapidly getting there,” Wooten said. “We feel strongly we shouldn’t be picking another route in somebody else’s community.”

Read all of the coverage in Florida Politics here.


Citrus County rejects all four proposed turnpike routes

It's official! Citrus County has come out opposed to each of the four proposed routes for the Northern Turnpike Extension!

 Thanks again to all of the residents and partner organizations who have worked tirelessly to convince the Citrus County Commissioner to support a #NoBuild resolution opposing all four of the proposed routes for the Northern Turnpike Extension.

The Citrus BOCC unanimously approved a resolution making it very clear that they wish to oppose all four routes and support their neighbors to the North and East with Sumter, Marion, and Levy counties in opposing the entirety of the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension.

Read the Citrus County Chronicle's coverage here.

 "This situation, this turnpike, is not for Citrus County,” Commissioner Ruth Schlabach said.

The unanimous vote played well to many in the crowd, who urged the board beforehand to go all-out on no-build.

The second resolution, which was rejected, adopted a “no-build” resolution for three of the proposed routes but allowed for further consideration of corridor alternative A, which the board thought would have the least effect on Citrus County.

Commissioner Scott Carnahan made the motion which, he said, shows Citrus’ solidarity with its neighbors to the north who would also be negatively affected by the four routes.

Citrus County Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Josh Wooten told commissioners he doesn’t think any of the four routes are compatible with the county.

“We’re not hearing a big clamor from the business community for this road,” he said.

The resolution will be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials.

Photos from the Citrus BOCC meeting:

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PRESS RELEASE: BEDECKED CROWD TO SUMTER COMMISSION: “NO BUILD” IS THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE OUR COUNTY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

June 14, 2022 

Contact: Michael McGrath, michael.mcgrath@sierraclub.org, 386-341-4708

**PRESS RELEASE**

BEDECKED CROWD TO SUMTER COMMISSION:

“NO BUILD” IS THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE OUR COUNTY

The Villages—On Tuesday, June 14, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners got an earful from close to 120 concerned voters adorned with bright pink “Rural Florida Says No Toll Roads” stickers, waving neon green “No Build” signs, and donning “#NoBuild No Turnpike Extension” t-shirts; a loud and clear sign that Sumter residents want no part of the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension.  The Commission chamber was packed.  All of the proposed routes would cleave through vulnerable communities and sensitive environmental lands in Sumter and beyond.

The Northern Turnpike Extension was not on the Commissioners’ agenda, but speakers took advantage of the public comment portion of the meeting to hit all of the reasons the Northern Turnpike Extension is a threat to their homes, quality of life, businesses, and the county’s natural resources. The crowd enthusiastically raised their "No Build" signs and applauded speakers for more than an hour in a show of collective determination to protect what remains of rural and historic Sumter and the broader Nature Coast region.

Multiple residents presented the Sumter Commission with a draft No Build resolution for their adoption as soon as possible to send a strong, clear message to the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, Florida Department of Transportation, and state leadership that they want nothing to do with this toll road proposal.  Following the public comment, where opposition to the turnpike extension was unanimous, the Commissioners angered the crowd by stating their devotion to playing nice with Tallahassee.

“Only a small, but devastating, portion of the proposed road is in Sumter county before it heads into counties that clearly do not want it, so who are you supporting this for?  You have made it clear that you are more concerned about not angering folks in Tallahassee than representing the people in this room. Not one person has said they want this toll road, so why are you not supporting the No Build option?” stated Wildwood resident Kayce Walker.

Levi Solomon of Royal added: “I am not impressed with our current Sumter Board of County Commissioners. They are not listening to the people. The people are speaking, and they are saying ‘No Build.’  Government for the people by the people.”

Tillman’s Hammock resident Michael Brooks said:  “I don’t think our Commissioners are working for us, they are working for themselves.  They need to leave the rural part of Florida alone, and protect the wild parts of Florida for the benefit of wildlife and its people.”

“As a fifth-generation Floridian, I’ve seen the detrimental effects of rampant development and urban sprawl to our state with Sumter being no exception.  The time has come for Sumter residents to stand in solidarity against the Turnpike Extension” stated Gay Lynn Light, a 23-year resident of Tillman’s Hammock.

“Speaking as a fourth-generation Sumter County resident, and lifelong Tillman’s Hammock resident, the Sumter County Commission needs to listen to the residents and adopt the No Build resolution that was presented to them tonight,” said Janet Thomas of Tillman’s Hammock.

Sumter County’s passage of a “No build” resolution would follow others already passed by the Levy Board of County Commissioners, Dunnellon City Council,  Inglis Town Commission, Yankeetown Council, and Inverness City Council; the Citrus Board of County Commissioners is poised to pass their own No Build resolution later this month.

Photos/Video:  Signs and Stickers, T-shirts, Raise your hand!, Applause for speaker (escorted out), No Build or Bust!

Background:

In 2019, the Florida state legislature passed SB 7068 to authorize the design and construction of 330 miles of new toll roads through the heart of rural Florida. The bill creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 17, 2019, despite a veto request from over 90 organizations and businesses from across Florida.  While M-CORES was technically repealed in 2021 with SB 100, not all of the threats were vanquished, including the Northern Turnpike Extension.

The No Roads to Ruin Coalition, devoted to stopping the unneeded and costly plans to cut through rural Florida with new toll roads, was launched in August 2019 and is now 118 organizations and businesses strong.  The coalition’s position on the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension remains “No Build.”

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Big "No Build" win in Citrus County for Northern Turnpike Extension

5/26/22

Earlier this week, the Citrus County Commission unanimously instructed County staff to prepare a “No Build” resolution opposing each of the Northern Turnpike Extension routes through Citrus County (e.g. Alternative Corridor Central and Southern, the purple and yellow routes). The Citrus Commissioners also voiced support for opposing the Alternative Corridor North B (the Blue Route).

This is the biggest win yet in the effort to stop the construction of the Northern Turnpike Extension, which would bisect existing conservation lands such as SWFWMD owned conservation lands, family farms and ranches, historic Black communities, and jeopardize our aquifer, rivers, lakes, and the Outstanding Florida Springs of the Homosassa River, Crystal River, and Rainbow River.

For the second time this year, a diverse group of local residents teamed up with members of the No Roads to Ruin Coalition to fill the Citrus County Commission chambers and speak in a unified voice against these unnecessary and irresponsible roads. The pictures don’t do the massive grassroots showing justice for how Citrus residents packed the chamber to make it clear that NO ONE wants the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension. Most of the time there was only standing room for many and public comment lasted for more than 2 hours. Thank you for everyone who has written, called and showed up to convince the Citrus County Commission to support the No Build option for the Northern Turnpike Extension through Citrus County. We are eternally grateful for the residents who came to voice their concerns. Those whose homes are in the proposed pathway are the most impacted and shared with their commissioners stories that pulled at the heartstrings. Special shout out to the folks from the Pine Ridge Property Owner's Association who at the very onset helped set the tone with well-coordinated fact-driven arguments and the residents of Hernando's Black community who shared on this would be yet another example of environmental racism on a Historic Black community. Citrus resident Gina Howe while also representing Citrus County Airboat Alliance delivered copies of the 2,000 plus petition signatures collected from Citrus residents opposing the Northern Turnpike Extension (Note: more than 4,000 petition signatures have been collected for the Citrus petition but not all are residents of Citrus County but will be delivered to state leaders such as the Governor at the appropriate time).

The No Roads to Ruin Coalition was well represented with partner organizations both local to Citrus and those with a statewide presence. Showing up for the No Build cause during this meeting and before from our Coalition included: Sally McDavid (Florida Forever Backcountry Horseman), Gina Howe (Citrus County Airboat Alliance), Maxine Connor (League of Women Voters), Eugene Kelly (Florida Native Plant Society), DeeVon Quirlos (Sierra Club's local Adventure Coast group and Nature Coast Conservation), Dan Hilliard (Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration, Inc.), Frank Kapocsi (Homosassa River Alliance), Kim Dinkins (Save the Manatee Club), Burt Eno (Rainbow River Conservation), Elise Bennett (Center for Biological Diversity), Kristin Rubin and Jim Tatum (Our Santa Fe River), Ryan Smart and Brenda Wells (Florida Springs Council), and Michael McGrath and Cris Costello (Sierra Club Florida).

A special thanks to our partners Save the Manatee Club, Florida Wildlife Federation, Progress Florida, Florida Conservation Voters, Florida Springs Council, and Sierra Club Florida for funding the purchase of a half-page ad that ran for four days prior to this public workshop in the Citrus County Chronicle that alerted readers and residents to email their Commissioners and attend this event.

To date, local governments and the Southwest Florida Water Management District have voiced their opposition to this new toll road proposal. The Southwest Florida Water Management District has objected to each of the proposed routes in a letter dated February 14, 2022, addressed to the Director of the Turnpike Enterprise: “Any option that would bisect District-owned conservation lands or sever District lands from other existing conservation lands would be inconsistent with the original intent behind the use of taxpayer dollars to acquire those conservation lands.” The Citrus Board of County Commissioners will soon be joining the Levy Board of County Commissioners, the Dunnellon City Council, the Inverness City Council, the Inglis Town Commission, and the Yankeetown Council, all of which have all already passed “No Build” resolutions to the proposed routes of the Northern Turnpike Extension and which will ultimately influence FDOT and the Florida Turnpike Enterprises final decision.

We will continue working alongside local residents and our No Roads to Ruin partners to assist Citrus County in passing a strong “No-Build” resolution, urge other local governments to follow suit, and ensure that the Florida Department of Transportation respects the decisions of these communities.

Earned media coverage:

Citrus County Chronicle | BOCC rejects turnpike routes through Citrus by Mike Bates

Florida Politics | No turnpike through Citrus County, Commissioners say by Mike Wright

Photos from the event:

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Inverness City Council unanimously motions to adopt No Build resolution against NTE

May 3, 2022

The Inverness City Council entertained presentations from both representatives of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise/Florida Department of Transportation and then the Sierra Club regarding the Northern Turnpike Extension during their regularly scheduled May 3rd Inverness City Council meeting. After the FDOT/FTE representatives provided vague updates on the changes in the project development process and timeline, the City Council invited Sierra Club to provide a formal presentation to make the case for the No Build option, representing the cause of the No Roads to Ruin Coalition. Michael McGrath, Organizing Representative for Sierra Club FL, provided the facts that FDOT/FTE had failed to provide to the City Council on the negative impacts that each of the Northern Turnpike Extension proposed routes would have on our SWFWMD managed lands, vulnerable springsheds, wildlife habitat, and recreational lands and trails that contribute to the rural quality of life found within the Nature Coast.

After these presentations were provided to the City Council, public comment was heard from more than a dozen concerned residents and local organizations, all of which were in full support of the No Build option. Dozens more in the audience silently displayed their support by holding No Build signs and wearing "Rural Florida Says No Toll Roads" magenta stickers and shirts. After the conclusion of public comment, the City Council engaged in discussion on how to proceed and came to the unanimous agreement of approving a motion directing the City Manager to draft a No Build resolution against all of the proposed routes currently being considered with the Northern Turnpike Extension. The City Council intends to adopt the No Build resolution at their next City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 17th.

A big thank you needs to go out to the tireless advocacy of residents and activists consistently showing up at previous City Council meetings over the last couple of months. The perseverance of those who came out convinced the Inverness City Council to join the other local governments in supporting the No Build option for ALL of the Northern Turnpike Extension proposed routes. The Inverness City Council will soon join the Levy BOCC, the Dunnellon City Council, the Inglis Town Commission, and Yankeetown Council in the ranks of local governments that have passed No Build resolution against the entirety of the Northern Turnpike Extension.

Partners and activists within the No Roads to Ruin Coalition will work with the City Manager to provide the Inverness City Council an Inverness-specific No Build resolution that captures and emulates the City Council's intent and concerns.

You can review the letter and maps that the Sierra Club provided to the City Council following the Florida Turnpike Enterprise/Florida Department of Transportation presentation here.

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Yankeetown Council Votes to Pass No Build Resolution Against the Turnpike Extension

May 2, 2022

The Yankeetown Council voted to pass their own “No Build” resolution vote on Monday, May 2 at 6:00 PM 4-1 after receiving overwhelming public support in a previous meeting in April. Thank you for all who showed up in Yankeetown to provide your support for the No Build option against the Northern Tunrpike Extension and to help protect the Nature Coast from a new toll road that would pave over everything that we hold dear and some of the last remants of Old Florida.

You can review the resolution that was adopted here (page 6)

Yankeetown joins the ranks of the Levy BOCC, Dunnellon City Council, and Inglis Town Commission as communities that have passed their own "No Build" resolutions against the Northern Turnpike Extension.