February 23, 2022 


Sabrina Watson,, (352) 628-2973

Sally McDavid,, 352-634-2649

Michael McGrath,, 386-341-4708




Inverness—On Tuesday, February 22, the Citrus County Board of Commissioners held a rare evening meeting to hear from its citizens regarding the potential for a new toll road, a northern extension of the Florida Turnpike, that would cut through the region.  The crowds arrived in droves and overwhelmed the Commission chamber, even after it was set up to provide more space than is normally available, sending many attendees into the overflow room.

The throng, estimated at more than 200 people, adorning pink “Rural Florida Says No Toll Roads” stickers and armed with the bright neon “No Build” signs now commonplace at city, county, and Florida Department of Transportation meetings across the region, was enthusiastic.  Speakers eloquently represented all of the reasons the Northern Turnpike Extension is a threat to their homes, quality of life, businesses, and environment of Citrus County.  Chairman Kitchen found it necessary to admonish attendees against raising the "No Build" signs and applauding speakers numerous times, including several "last warnings."  But the threat of the new toll road, and the devastation it would wreak on the Citrus way of life, had attendees up in arms.

Sally McDavid, of Florida Forever Back Country Horsemen said:  “The greedy politicians, developers, and builders just don’t seem to understand that there is simply no more water, no more rivers, no more springs, no more watersheds, no more farmland, and no more land for recreation.  What we have now is what there is.  It needs to be preserved and protected, not paved over or developed like Orlando.  FDOT has a long history of building toll roads based on projections of feasibility that NEVER even come close!  People will lose their homes and property--some owned for generations.  And, as a fourth generation cracker, the lifestyle we all love and cherish will be gone.  This thing was suspended in 1999 due to lack of support from local governments and the inability for it to pay for itself.  Nothing has changed.”  

Sabrina Watson, Citrus County Airboat Association said, “Lake Hernando park is a gateway to hundreds and hundreds of miles of waterways where there are completely unknown cultures, communities, and ecosystems that would be completely destroyed by a toll road coming through the watershed. Families and visitors alike gather here for outdoor recreation and social activities. Protecting them is important for maintaining Citrus County’s rural traditions and quality of life.” 

“I hope the Commissioners were reading the tea leaves last night because there is no doubt that this road or any toll road for that matter is not wanted, needed, or useful. I’m sure when election time runs around people will remember how the Commission voted when it comes to how they dealt with the Northern Turnpike Extension,” said Pat Wade, a concerned Citrus County resident.

“FDOT has little regard to creating massive scars of destruction across the landscape all in the name of ‘economic development.’  They are part of the problem of loss to our environment, water supply, quality of life and destroying the last of "Old Florida" where I was born and raised.  At one time ‘we the people’ meant something. Today, greed has consumed those words to mean ‘for the connected,’ said Karen Esty, Member of the Hernando/Citrus County MPO Citizens Advisory Committee and Vice Chair of the Planning & Zoning Board for the City of Inverness.

"The attendees were unified and 100% opposed to the Turnpike extension.  Their objections focused on environmental impacts and disruption of the rural nature of The Nature Coast.  If that message is not taken to heart by the County Commission, it will no doubt be reflected in the next election cycle," said Dan Hilliard, President of Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration (WAR).

Of note was the fact that the Board was presented with a copy of the letter from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) to the Director of the Turnpike Enterprise, which stated unequivocally that all proposed routes would impinge on state preserve lands and as a result the Water District could not approve of the proposal.

Local governments can play an instrumental role in representing their resident’s interest in stopping the toll road plans.  The Levy County Board of County Commissioners, Dunnellon City Council, and Inglis Town Commission have already made their positions clear to FDOT by passing “No Build” resolutions. On Tuesday, the Citrus Board of County Commissioners heard from its residents, both loudly and clearly, that they should follow suit. While no resolution decision was made, the Commissioners voted to hold a public workshop on the Northern Turnpike Extension on May 26.   


Chamber (back)

Chamber (front)

Overflow room


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 116 organizations and businesses strong.  The coalition’s position on the proposed Northern Turnpike Extension remains “No Build.” 



Citrus Residents to Speak Out Against Northern Turnpike Toll Roads at Citrus BOCC

Who? Citrus County residents will be speaking out against the Northern Turnpike Extension toll roads urging their County Commissioners to reject the toll roads from paving their rural quality of life, upending residents in the pathways, and vulnerable springsheds.

Why? The Citrus BOCC needs to hear from the residents of Citrus County that we don’t want our communities, quality of life to pave over our springs, estuaries, wetlands, wildlife, farmlands all that which makes the Nature Coast so iconic and appealing tourist destination. Residents will be packing the Chamber to tell them that they want them to support the No Build option to direct FDOT during their PDE and Design study for the Northern Turnpike Extension.

When? TODAY, Tuesday, Feb. 22nd at 5:30 PM the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners is providing a public input session followed by their regularly scheduled BOCC meeting. Residents will be showing up in force so that the BOCC hears from Citrus residents why we want them to reject the roads with brightly colored No Build signs and wearing  Rural Florida Says No Toll Roads stickers.

Where? Citrus County Courthouse 110 N. Apopka Ave., Inverness, FL. 34450

Royal and Sumter residents made it clear they want the No Build option


Last night the Royal community showed up big and set the tone of the meeting during the public forum. The passion and concern was very palpable from those who turned out scores of "No Build" sign-waving, eloquent public speaking, fed-up residents who gave the Sumter Board of County Commissioners an earful. Rather than listening to the outcry of the public, the commissioners voted to send a letter to a turnpike official that would not oppose the extension but makes a concerted concern to direct FDOT to make sure it steers clear of Royal. 

No matter how hard Sumter tries to bend over backward in search of a better route, there is NO ROUTE that will not have absolutely devastating impacts on Sumter as each of the routes goes through Sumter starting in Wildwood. Sumter County and communities like Royal its history, the business community, and its natural resources are ground zero.

We cannot harm one community, farm, lake, or spring in the hope of saving another.  There are families, farms, businesses, and neighborhoods, just like the historic African-American community of Royal, for each and every proposed route. Opposition to these toll roads is widespread in Levy, Marion, Citrus, and Sumter counties; we are stronger together. We should collectively be saying NO BUILD. 

The Sumter fight has just begun and it's off with a bang!

Villages-News article | Royal’s African Americans worried that turnpike extension could cut through historic community: 

You can review the letter the Sumter BOCC and the City of Wildwood are considering sending here: 

You can watch the Sumter Boards' discussion here when they were debating the letter after the public forum. Let us be clear, “no build” is an option under SB 100. FDOT representatives have said that themselves many times. Now is the time for local governments to be making their opposition to the toll roads heard loud and clear. 

There will be a City Council meeting in Wildwood regarding the City Council approving the joint-letter that Sumter and Wildwood are attempting to send. BE THERE and SPEAK OUT! Ask them to revise the letter and to send a NO BUILD letter to the entire Turnpike Extension. More information for the meeting here:

Photos and videos from last night's event can be viewed here: 


Royal’s African Americans worried that turnpike extension could cut through historic community

Royal’s African Americans worried that turnpike extension could cut through historic community

Residents of the Royal area of Wildwood came out in force Tuesday night to protest an alternative for extension of the Florida Turnpike that would bisect their community.

They pressed Sumter County commissioners to support a “no build” option for the extension.

Instead, commissioners voted to send a letter to a turnpike official that would not oppose the extension, but make sure it steers clear of Royal.

Royal is an African-American community on Wildwood’s west side that dates back to just after the Civil War when former slaves were given plots of land there. Some of their descendants still live on that land.

Local officials meet at annual summit; focus on role in turnpike extension

Local officials meet at annual summit; focus on role in turnpike extension
By Fred Hiers
Citrus County Chronicle
When Citrus County elected officials at this year’s annual leadership summit received their first presentation from Florida turnpike authorities about its northbound turnpike extension plans, they all came to one conclusion: a no-build option was not an option.

Potential Florida Turnpike extension threatens rural land

Potential Florida Turnpike extension threatens rural land
By Heather Bushman
WUFT Gainesville

Excerpt: Michael McGrath, an organizer and representative for No Roads to Ruin and Sierra Club Florida, said the extension presents significant threats to Florida’s wildlife and natural resources. McGrath said two of the proposed routes through Marion County could damage Florida’s aquifer recharge zone in the Rainbow River, and routes through Citrus County could harm the Crystal River Estuary and Kings Bay. Limited access highways, like the Florida Turnpike, invite opportunities for mass development and urban sprawl. McGrath said this is not only concerning for local waterways and wildlife, but also for lifestyle in rural communities. “These aren’t just blank canvases,” he said. “There [are] vital agricultural economies that are present there that would be impacted by these toll roads.”

Marion TPO board gets an earful against northern extension of Florida Turnpike


Thank you to all who took the time to raise their voices and clamored for the No Build option for the Northern Turnpike toll roads at this week's Ocala-Marion TPO meeting! Your voices sent a very clear message to members of that commission that the residents of Marion County overwhelmingly do not want to see these roads built in any part of Marion County, so thank you!

Some of the Commissioner's at the TPO meeting claimed, "We can do nothing at this time," (Ire Bethea, president of the Ocala City Council and also chair of the TPO). THIS IS NOT TRUE! The Ocala-Marion TPO could pass a No Build resolution against these toll roads citing their concerns and urging FDOT to pursue the 'No Build' alternative as it conducts the Alternative Corridor Evaluation process. While it is true that FDOT must complete this ACE process, it is also true that it has to take into consideration official letters and resolutions made by local government bodies as well as Transportation Planning Organizations and Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

If you are in Marion, please continue to organize with your local City Council members and County Commissioners who sit on the Board of the TPO. The City of Dunnellon and Levy County's 'No Build' resolution are perfect examples of how local governments can have a seat at the table and make their opposition to these toll roads known! So keep at!

Use our draft No Build resolution to court your local City Council members and ask them to champion something similar. If you want help or coaching through this process, email us at info@noroadstoruin.or.

Draft No Build resolution with instructions and strategy considerations:

Specific links for local government bodies:

Read the entire article recapping this week's Ocala-Marion TPO meeting here:


"The 50 members of the public who showed up at the Ocala Marion Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) board meeting on Tuesday were interested in two things: speaking to Florida Department of Transportation officials about the proposed northern extension of the Florida Turnpike; and imploring TPO board members to join them in fighting to keep the road out of Marion County."

"Nancy Reich told the TPO board that state officials should first improve I-75 before thinking about another roadway.

Joe Harder said the toll road is unnecessary and will negatively affect those who moved to the area to enjoy the rural lifestyle.

Annette Stutzman said people's lives and homes would be harmed by the roadway and there's no need for it.

Nearly a dozen people at the meeting held up signs objecting to the extension. One sign read: "No toll road." Another said: "Stop the toll road madness." A third said: "No build.""


Marion County Commissioners Fail to Listen to Residents Concerns Again


Once again, the Marion Board of County Commissioners failed to listen to the demands of residents and their constituents. Today, the Commissioners took no new action, and the weak letter that leaves the door open for Marion County to be paved over and that was signed by Zalak as approved on Dec. 21, stands.

The letter that the Marion Board of County Commissioners is sending to FDOT, the Governor, and Legislature fails to take a hard and assertive line to protect residents and farms in the pathway. There are other valuable and integral lands other than those located within Marion County's Farmland Preservation Area that also need to be protected from being paved over. The wording of the letter is weak as it uses vague language such as "make every effort possible to avoid impact to existing developed residential subdivisions" but fails to ask for a "No Build" recommendation that would ensure that neither residents nor the environment would be impacted by this toll road proposal.

If the Marion BOCC truly wanted to have a decisive seat at the table with FDOT, they would have followed the example of the City of Dunnellon and Levy County and passed a No Build resolution asking FDOT to respect home rule and not bring a new toll road that will only act as a catalyst for sprawl in rural Florida. You can read the Ocala StarBanner's coverage of the meeting here. Excerpt: 

Disapproval voiced during the commission meeting

Those in attendance at Tuesday's regular meeting, the county commission's first of the year, disagreed with the letter's wording. Similar to the December meeting, many speakers, locally and from surrounding counties, went to the podium and expressed their frustrations. Some held posters and others read aloud from prepared statements.

If the turnpike extension is approved, speakers said, the roadway would severely impact the land, farmland, animals and people. They said the added concrete would ruin the area, pollute the water, rip apart people's lives, destroy the area's beauty and sully prime property for horses.

Some told commissioners that they feel neglected and that their voices are being ignored. As a warning, some went as far as to remind commissioners that their decision will be remembered at election time.

In the end, speaker after speaker asked commissioners to reconsider their stance and be like the Dunnellon City Council and the Levy County Commission. Both of those entities have urged FDOT to choose the "no build" option on the turnpike extension.

Letter-to-the-editor | Toll Road Stress

Toll road stress

Hundreds of residents showed up to the County Commission meeting on Dec. 21 to ask our elected officials to protect our homes, small businesses, farmlands, aquifer and rural way of life. Dozens of residents stood up giving facts and emotional testimony of why they are against the turnpike. No Roads to Ruin offered a resolution of “no build” and many asked the commissioners to tell FDOT to follow the M-CORES task force recommendations. 

Many left feeling disappointment, anger, frustration and a sense of limbo. The County Commission decided to send a letter requesting a seat at the table in deciding the toll road location. Now a large portion of Marion County residents are left to wonder, will this impact me? Should I sell my home now? Do I have to disclose the possible toll road? Should I pause any home improvements? 

So, on behalf of those of us who are now living in limbo, Thank you, County Commission, for ignoring your constituents and causing extra stress this Christmas. 

Alisha Hart, Dunnellon

Read the LTE published in the Ocala StarBanner here.

Thank you to all of our No Roads to Ruin Activists!

Season's greetings!  We have some “No Build” holiday cheer to share!

A gift to honor your tireless efforts:  Check out this video and enjoy the show of Northern Turnpike Extension (NTE) “No Build” fervor!

It is our small way of saying thank you.