For Immediate Release
August 27, 2019
Contact: Cris Costello, 941-914-0421, email@example.com
TAMPA - On Tuesday, numerous statewide and regional organizations made a strong stance against the toll roads discussed at the launch of Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) M-CORES task forces meeting. Groups present at the Tampa Convention Center included the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Florida Springs Council, Florida Conservation Voters, Progress Florida, Save the Manatee Club, Sierra Club, Bear Warriors United, Extinction Rebellion, Sunshine Citizens, Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, and Our Santa Fe River, all citing the innumerable negative impacts these tollways would have on Florida’s taxpayers, health, economy, and environment. Many in opposition sported “no roads to ruin” stickers.
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director for Progress Florida: “We are not interested in just making this horrible proposal less offensive, or getting a “better” route for these toll roads. Our collective aim is to stop this toll road boondoggle in its tracks.”
Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director said: “The three new toll roads would lead to massive development in one third of the State, bringing millions of new homes into Florida's nature coast and rural heartland. They would be as destructive to Florida's environment as the building of the canals that drained the Everglades in the first half of the 20th century. The Florida panther and countless other endangered species would move towards extinction due to a drastic reduction of wildlife habitat, increased urban pollution, and countless road collisions from millions of new cars on a massive network of new roads connecting to the toll roads”
“From the tone of this first task force meeting, it is as if the three corridors are already a done deal. This is not the case” said Lindsay Cross, Florida Conservation Voters’ Government Relations Director. “Any policy touting long-term vision for Florida deserves much more than a 13-month planning period. With our community of concerned citizens and partners, we will continue to oppose this rushed process and ensure the voice of the public is heard loud and clear.”
Sarah Gledhill, Center for Biological Diversity’s Senior Florida Field Campaigner said: “From what we saw today, this task force process is designed to be a rubber stamp. We learned that none of the three task forces will be involved in the decision to choose the route. How can any task force member give an informed thumbs-up to a new road without knowing the path it will take? It is a big tax-payer-funded rubber stamp."
“We cannot conceive of a path that would not seriously impact and fragment critically endangered Florida panther habitat which could jeopardize the survival and recovery of the Florida panther. There is no acceptable path” said Julianne Thomas, Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Senior Environmental Planning Specialist.
Ryan Smart, Executive Director of Florida Springs Council stated: “Our state is in the thick of a water quality crisis that threatens our health and economic future. These new roads would imperil important forests, springs, aquifer recharge areas, and wetlands essential to flood control and water quality treatment from the Georgia border to Florida Bay.”
“Each of the toll roads would cause permanent destructive impacts across a wide swath of public conservation lands, critical wetlands, recreation areas, and wildlife habitats” said Jim Tatum from Our Santa Fe River (OSFR). “Dozens of state parks, wildlife management areas, refuges, reserves, and preserves, many of which are Florida Forever acquired lands, are threatened by this project. Accompanying urban sprawl would further devastate and forever fragment habitat, isolate wildlife corridors, and contribute to deforestation and harm to Florida lakes, rivers, streams, bays, and springs.”