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CS/SB 7068: Transportation

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CS/SB 7068: Transportation

Why am I hearing about a proposed toll road?
On May 17, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/SB 7068: Transportation. This bill focuses on advancing various infrastructure projects in three regions within our state.

This bill authorizes the creation of three regional task forces by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to study infrastructure needs within rural communities across our state. These task forces will address improvements to existing roads and construction of three new major roads to connect existing expressways.

Additionally, the bill creates a construction workforce program and declares how and when the funds will be allocated.

Is this bill associated with the proposed Coastal Connector project?
No. FDOT’s proposed Coastal Connector project envisioned a road to connect Tampa to Jacksonville. The proposed Coastal Connector project completed the required survey phase and then was canceled.

What three new major roads are being proposed in this bill?
- Southwest-Central Florida Connector (connecting Collier and Polk counties).
- Suncoast Connector (connecting Citrus and Jefferson counties).
- Northern Turnpike Connector (connecting the Florida Turnpike’s northern terminus and the Suncoast Parkway).

What is the purpose of these three new major roads?
These three new major roads are expected to:
- Address Florida’s rapid population growth.
- Alleviate traffic congestion.
- Create additional evacuation routes.
- Enhance trade and tourism.
- Improve rural infrastructure across the state.

Who will decide where these three new major roads actually go?
The regional task forces will conduct research and analyze their respective corridors to provide a final report to state officials by Oct. 1, 2020. Final determinations will be based on the task forces’ recommendations.

Who will be in the regional task forces?
Regional task forces relating to this bill will consist of members appointed by FDOT to represent their associated region. Members appointed by FDOT will include representatives from state and environmental agencies, local officials, and other relevant stakeholders. The task forces will analyze and evaluate their corridor to determine infrastructure needs, environmental concerns and other impacts. The task forces must also hold public meetings.

Will any of these three new major roads actually be constructed?
As of now, we cannot know for certain, because the proposed projects are only in their infancy. What is certain is that this bill was signed by our governor. Therefore, the intention is to take the necessary steps to see these road projects come to completion.

When will these three new major roads be constructed?
Once a final report is to be completed and approved in 2020. Construction is then set to begin by Dec. 31, 2022. The three new major roads will then open to traffic on or before Dec. 31, 2030.

Will any of these three new major roads affect Marion County?
There’s a possibility that these three new roads will be constructed outside of Marion County. We are in the very early stages of these projects. We will know more once FDOT appoints members for the task forces.

If any of these new major roads are constructed in Marion County, will this affect our farmlands or springs?
New roads in Marion County will sustain some sort of impact, be it on personal property or on our natural resources. The task forces will be responsible with evaluating the needs of wildlife, agricultural lands, springs, rivers, and other natural resources.

Per specific language in this bill, the three new major roads must be designed so that project rights-of-way are not located within conservation lands acquired under the Florida Preservation 2000 Act (s.259.101) and the Florida Forever program (s.259.105).

Additional information will be shared as further developments are made relating to this proposed project.

 Quick links
Florida Governor announcement.
Florida League of Cities general information.
Florida Senate general bill information.
Florida Preservation 2000 Act.
Florida Forever Act.