What happens when out of state transplants move to the wonderful state of Florida? Florida gained an average of nearly 1,000 per people per day in 2019, but that number could be even higher in 2020 thanks to the pandemic.
One of the great feats that Florida has managed for the most part has been preparing the necessary infrastructure to insure a continued quality of life. Roads? A few areas are behind the curve, but for the most part one can sail along one heck of a long state in good time. Exception of course are seasonal migrations of the snow birds- Routes 95 and 10 come to mind, and the annual rides one may have to take during Hurricane season. In those cases parts of Florida can easily become a death trap. But much of Florida is undeveloped and farm land.
Florida already has more toll road miles than any other state. So others are not paying for the dream rides.
So now with this mass migration occurring one would think planning ahead might be a good idea for how all of these new Floridians will get about. But alas. The new folks that have arrived have the “last in” syndrome. “Glad I made it”, but I think I will now worry about the wildlife, urban sprawl and the concern that new roads that could bring new communities to spring up.
So let’s get to the heart of the matter: The Proposal
Three proposed new toll roads would add about 330 miles more. (Aric Chokey / Orlando Sentinel)
One road would connect Florida’s Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway at Crystal River in Citrus County; another would extend the Suncoast north to the Georgia line in Jefferson County, just east of Tallahassee. The third would cut through Florida’s heartland from Collier County in Naples north to Polk County, between Orlando and Tampa.
The old tropes:
Paving pristine rural areas for three politically-motivated toll roads made no sense even before the coronavirus raged across Florida.
But with COVID-19 hitting the state budget hard, forging ahead with these boondoggles represents a classic case of misguided priorities — right up there with the Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
Given the state’s precarious finances, even the new chairman of the budget-writing Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is skeptical about the need for these rural roads. Florida’s soaring Medicaid caseloads and the pandemic’s effects on public school budgets are urgent needs, she said, while the state’s long-range infrastructure can wait.
The toll roads were the pet project of former Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, who made them his one demand in any deal sought by the Florida House and Gov. Ron DeSantis two years ago.
He also said the roads would create more hurricane escape routes, though Georgia officials have since said their roads aren’t prepared for new inroads from Florida. Besides, emergency planners now say it’s better for evacuees to shelter closer to home. ???
(From personal experience don’t count on this one.) My experience with Hurricane Irma.
But I digress:
Galvano also glossed over the dangers to water and wildlife, including the protected Florida panther.
The Bradenton Republican claimed the through-fares would nurture economic growth in isolated communities, even though a significant number of affected communities have since said they don’t want them.
Of course not. Yet the huddled masses will keep yearning to be free in Florida.
Having lived in the Fort Myers Cape Coral Naples area for a number of years, the highways are wonderful. Well marked, four lanes with beautifully landscaped median areas.
Don’t come to Florida bringing your nasty progressive voting habits and unwillingness to share a fine quality of life. Just think about being one of the millions of new voters in 2024. Remember from whence you came and the life you escaped. Share the road.