New invoice might shut FDOT’s Southwest-Central Connector toll street venture
COLLIER COUNTY, Florida – A 140-mile highway that runs from Collier County to Flagstaff may never pass.
FDOT’s Southwest-Central Connector toll road is designed to facilitate traffic, provide broadband internet access to rural communities, and serve as a hurricane evacuation route.
However, the No Roads To Ruin Coalition argues that doing so could affect the habitat of the endangered Florida panther and cause overdevelopment in rural communities. The group, made up of 105 organizations, including Collier County nonprofits like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Conservancy of Tucson, has partnered with Florida lawmakers.
Senator Tina Polsky and House Representative Ben Diamond have both submitted bills to the Senate and House to lift the toll road.
“Representative Diamond and I voted ‘no’ in the House two years ago to this bill,” said Polsky. “We think it only makes sense to focus our efforts and financial resources on urgently needed services. Public education and health care through general income. “
The coalition with House Representative Diamond and Senator Polsky is now hoping to get more support from the Republicans.
“We know there are Republicans who care about the environment, who care about financial responsibility, and we hope we get the right information into their hands,” said Julianne Thomas, senior environmental planner at The Conservancy of Tucson and a key leader in the No Roads To Ruin Coalition.
In the meantime, FDOT has entered the second phase of the project, the ACE study, which includes a financial analysis and assessment of potential corridors. The second phase is expected to be completed in the summer.