Florida Highway Project Faces Opposition From All Sides

Critics worry the proposed 330-mile corridor would encourage sprawl, harm wildlife, and saddle the state with decades of debt.

May 2, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Florida Roads

osseus / Flickr

A proposed highway project in Florida, the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance program, or M-CORES, has met with strong resistance from "a diverse cross section of opponents" who have called the proposed highways "roads to ruin."

Despite hopes that the three proposed highways "will help the state keep up with its explosive population growth," Eric Tegenhoff writes in a piece for Grist that groups from conservationists to taxpayer watchdogs have expressed concern about the project's cost and potential disruptions to wildlife habitats and rural economies.

The 330-mile toll road corridor could cost as much as $26 billion and, if completed, is projected to open by 2030. "In a year when lawmakers must reckon with the pandemic’s budget impact, the price tag for M-CORES is difficult for some critics to swallow." Meanwhile, environmental groups argue that new roads will just bring more traffic, encourage sprawl, and "disturb some of the state’s natural barriers against sea level rise, such as wetlands."

According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the agency "will conduct financial and environmental feasibility studies when the agency chooses the most suitable path." In a statement sent to Grist, agency spokesperson Natalie McElwee wrote "A 'no-build' option remains on the table." An analysis by an opposition coalition calling itself No Roads to Ruin found that 93 percent of public comments sent to FDOT about the project were negative, "suggesting that there is little constituency for M-CORES."

Thursday, April 29, 2021 in Grist

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