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Senate considers building, expanding toll roads in Florida

Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 17:57:27-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Senate is poised Wednesday to approve a plan that would build or expand three toll roads in the state, a top priority of Senate President Bill Galvano.

The proposal would require the Florida Department of Transportation to set up task forces to study economic and environmental impacts of extending the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area north to the Georgia border, extending the Florida Turnpike west to hook up with the Suncoast Parkway as well as building a new transportation corridor, including a toll road, from Polk to Collier County.

Senate bill sponsor Tom Lee says the roads will help rural communities, provide new hurricane-evacuation options, and address the state’s continued rapid growth.

“The sheer growth of our state, and the fact that the I-75 and I-4 corridors are becoming unnavigable at times, just because of the congestion," said Lee.

Several environmental groups are fighting the measure, saying the project would lead to urban sprawl, harmful wildlife impacts and create water pollution resulting from paving large stretches of rural lands.

If given final approval, the project would cost $45 million next year, $90 million the following year and around $135 million annually for another decade.

The Florida House of Representatives is waiting for the Senate to advance the bill before acting on its version of the proposal.