New study refutes benefits of 3 proposed toll roads in Florida
By Karl Schneider
Naples Daily News

Cornell Consulting, a student-run group out of Cornell University, concluded the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance, known as M-CORES, will not benefit hurricane evacuations, traffic congestion or broadband access. The group also found the toll road project would create negative economic returns.

“We can summarize this as a gross misuse of funds that will cause a financial strain for (the Florida Department of Transportation),” said William McGrath of Cornell Consulting.

FDOT lists a myriad of potential benefits M-CORES could provide on its website, and more efficient hurricane evacuations is listed at the top. The consulting group, however, concluded that using contraflows, or opening all highway lanes to move away from a hurricane’s path, would be a better option if done efficiently.

“The premise that M-CORES will reduce congestion and aide in evacuation ignores quicker and cheaper alternatives,” consultant Justin Zhang said. “What we found was the efficiency of contraflows is really dependent on the number of initiation and termination points. And in the past, Florida hasn’t really been using those points efficiently.”

Aerial access would also reduce any impacts to Florida’s wetlands and waterflow areas, consultant Gayatri Sriram said. These rural communities rely on above-ground power lines for electricity, and attaching a fiber optic cable to existing conduits could be the easier option.

“If Florida wants to improve access to data, I say go for it, but don’t be foolish,” she said.  “There is a cheaper, eco-friendly option to deploy broadband and improve local economies.”