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How Not to Do Growth
Daniel Herriges does not mince words when assessing a plan advancing through the Florida Legislature "that would construct three new toll roads totaling more than 300 miles, and would divert over $1.3 billion from the state's general fund to pay for them."
"These roads would mostly parallel existing Interstate 75 through parts of the state that are rural and very sparsely populated. The proposed routes pass through what are now cattle pastures, citrus groves, and pine forests. The largest city on the longest of the three routes—Perry—has fewer than 10,000 inhabitants."
So how is the state justifying the need for such an immense expenditure on new roads? Herriges doesn't think it can. "There is absolutely no present, looming problem that these toll roads would solve. None."
While dispensing with potential pro-road project arguments like existing congestion and need for Hurricane evacuation capacity, Herriges gets to the fundamental argument of the article: "When we talk about the need to 'prepare' for growth with a brand new road deep into a rural area, we're glossing over a huge chicken/egg problem." The state of Florida doesn't have to grow in this mostly rural setting, according to Herriges, but there are some already wealthy interests who stand to benefit if it does.
After winning nearly unanimous approval from the Florida State Senate, the plan is now moving to the House. Herriges also recommends reading an opinion piece by Thomas Hawkins on the subject of the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-Cores) plan, written for the Gainesville Sun.