Suncoast Connector Toll Road Update

“Take your toll road away from Monticello. Far away.” So begins local writer Merry Ann Frisby’s op-ed in the October 25, 2019 edition of the Tallahassee Democrat. (PDF OF THE ARTICLE). I won’t go into detail describing the author’s op-ed as it would be an injustice to her wonderful prose. Suffice to say she captures many of Tall Timbers’ concerns regarding the proposed toll road’s potential impacts to wildlife habitat, our regions precious water resources, Jefferson County’s archaeological treasures, and Main Street communities like Monticello.

If you have not heard about the Suncoast Connector toll road, it is part of a proposal hastily passed by the Florida Legislature earlier this year. The Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program (M-CORES) authorizes the design and construction of three new toll road corridors through rural Florida, including the 150+ mile Suncoast Connector, extending from Citrus County through Jefferson County. The proposed Suncoast Connector toll road corridor would provide a direct link between the Red Hills and the Florida Turnpike in Central Florida. The proposal includes planning for the provision of water, sewer, and other infrastructure specifically designed to encourage development in rural areas.

In order to respond to this challenge, Tall Timbers has raised funds from generous and concerned Red Hills landowners, hired a consulting firm to help Tall Timbers’ voice be heard on this issue, met with dozens of key leaders and Toll Road Task Force members, identified key issues we need to study, and engaged in broad-based public outreach activities.

There’s still plenty of work to do. In the coming months we will continue to meet with key leaders, stakeholders, and Task Force members; grow our toll road outreach campaign; commission respected organizations to study important issues related to toll road impacts; and expand partnerships with organizations concerned about this damaging program.

Tall Timbers knows that Jefferson County and other rural communities have infrastructure and economic development needs. We believe what’s needed however is not the sledgehammer of a toll road corridor but strategic assessment and investment in regional and community planning to identify communities’ desired future visions, critical infrastructure and other community development needs, and opportunities for local and regional natural resource conservation.

The focus of these efforts should be on smart growth that protects our environment, enhances our local economies, and preserves rural community character throughout the Big Bend.

Tall Timbers needs your help. Visit our Suncoast Connector webpage to learn about this proposal and to send an email opposing the toll road to the Florida Department of Transportation.

For additional information, contact Red Hills Planning Coordinator Neil Fleckenstein or Tall Timbers CEO/President Bill Palmer.

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