Good news, but where are the devilish details?
WILDWOOD—After cryptic and conflicting news leaks over the last 24 hours, today the Florida Department of Transportation announced a “pause” to the Northern Turnpike Extension Project.
In response, the No Roads to Ruin Coalition Steering Committee released the following: “The subheading of the FDOT press release states: ‘Florida Turnpike Enterprise Alternative Corridor Evaluation Study Concludes with no Viable Proposed Corridors.’ This is no doubt the best news the No Roads to Ruin community has received since M-CORES reared its ugly head in 2019.
This ‘pause,’ whatever it may mean, is directly related to the mobilization of the Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter county voters who dared to refuse to take ‘toll’ for an answer, and the adoption of ‘No Build’ resolutions by the Levy Board of County Commission, Citrus Board of County Commission, Dunnellon City Council, Inverness City Council, Inglis Town Commission, Yankeetown Council, and Bronson Town Council.
Of special note in the FDOT announcement was the statement: ‘FDOT appreciates all the input and efforts from the local communities, government partners, and stakeholders.’ This wholly undercuts Sumter and Marion County commissioner claims that passing a ‘No Build’ resolution would destroy their relationships with FDOT.
But after more than three years of fighting the varied proposed new toll roads toward getting a ‘No Build’ or ‘No Action’ decision from FDOT/FTE, we are unclear about how ‘no viable proposed corridors’ relates to the current Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study and a no build/no action decision.
We have other questions including: How does this ‘pause’ impact the Department’s statutory requirements related to the status report due to the Governor and Legislature by the end of this year? Is the Department required, or planning to, complete the PD&E study? How long will the voters of Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties have to wait until the threat of this project is eliminated?
We are gravely concerned that the announcement ended with ‘the project’s website, www.floridasturnpike.com/NTE, will remain active as a resource for project updates.’ This does not send a signal to our community that the project is dead, and until FDOT makes its position crystal clear, we will remain vigilant and involved.
Finally, this is no reprieve for elected officials in the 4-county region, or at the state level, who must continue to prove to their constituents that they will protect them from this unneeded, unwanted, costly, politically-driven boondoggle. It won’t be over until the project is finally laid to rest.”
BACKGROUND: In 2019, the bill creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, and while M-CORES was technically repealed in 2021, the menace of a proposed Northern Turnpike Extension has remained.
Go to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition website for more information.