Florida Senate President Bill Galvano recently announced an infrastructure plan that includes extending toll roads. One suggestion includes expanding the Suncoast Parkway toll all the way to the Georgia border.
On Jan. 30, Sen. Galvano, R-Bradenton, sent a letter to state senators regarding infrastructure. Galvano urged Infrastructure and Security Chairman Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, to draft legislation that will expedite three corridor projects in rural areas:
- Suncoast Parkway extension to Georgia.
- Northern Turnpike connector (Florida Turnpike northwest to Suncoast Parkway).
- Connecting highway from Polk County to Collier County.
Currently, the Suncoast Parkway ends at US-98. In February 2018, construction began on a $134 million project that will extend the Suncoast Parkway toll road to SR-44, which is expected to be completed in 2022. Phase two of the project will further extend the toll road to CR-486 in Citrus County, a total extension of approximately 16 miles. Taking the toll road to the Georgia state line will extend the road by approximately 150 miles.
The Turnpike connector would extend that toll road from Interstate 75 to the Suncoast Parkway, and extension of approximately 30 miles.
Galvano also wants to build a highway that will connect Polk County to Collier County. Also known as the Heartland Parkway, a similar proposal has been made in the past. However, opposition was so strong that the idea was eventually terminated.
A toll road extension has also been mentioned in the past as a potential hurricane evacuation route. However, Galvano’s letter to senators focused more on economics.
“I am confident these new infrastructure corridors will help achieve Florida’s goal of strategically planning for future population growth, while at the same time revitalizing rural communities and enhancing public safety,” Galvano stated. “In my view, the benefits of this type of long-term investment in our infrastructure include regional connectivity that enhances trade and tourism, congestion mitigation and evacuation routes, as well as broadband, water, and sewer connectivity that helps preserve our natural resources while improving quality of life for residents in rural areas of our state.”
A price tag was not included in Galvano’s proposal. Florida’s legislation session beings on March 5.
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