New Florida law moves forward plan for three toll roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/21/2019

Three new toll projects in Florida have received the green light to move forward.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill to build one new toll road and extend two others. Specifically, the new law authorizes moving forward with an extension of the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia line.

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has called for extending the 150-mile-long project. He says it would help the economies of rural areas along the path.

Additional projects include a toll road to connect Polk County to Collier County, and a connector for the Florida Turnpike west to the Suncoast Parkway.

The three projects have a price tag totaling $45 million in the proposed state budget. The cost will double next year and reach $132 million in 2021. The cost will reach $140 million beginning in 2022.

Advocates tout the roads as helping to relieve congestion on Interstates 74 and 4.

“Regional connectivity not only enhances trade and tourism, but also mitigates congestion and provides additional evacuation routes,” Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, said in prepared remarks.

Criticisms of the plan are largely focused on environmental concerns. Opponents say the toll projects will harm waterways and wildlife.

Previously SB7068, the new law will have task forces meet publicly and study the three projects. Findings and recommendations will be provided to the Florida Department of Transportation. The agency will have the final say on how each project moves forward.

Construction is expected to begin within three years. Completion of the projects is set for 2030.

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