10/17/2019: The toll roads are coming, likely through a neighborhood near you. The Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”) and the M-Cores task force are working to advance plans pertaining to the Suncoast Connector, the Northern Turnpike Connector, and the Southwest-Central Florida Connector. Routes for these projects could be known as early as January 2020.
The Suncoast Connector study corridor covers the eastern portion of the panhandle, from Citrus County to Jefferson County. The Northern Turnpike Connector would extend from the northern terminus of Florida’s Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway. And the Southwest-Central Florida Connector would then extend from Polk County to Collier County. Combined, the study areas include approximately 20,000 square miles, 77 cities and towns, and 21 Florida counties, approximately one third of all counties.
M-Cores is short for Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance. According to FDOT, the M-Cores program is “intended to revitalize rural communities, encourage job creation and provide regional connectivity while leveraging technology, enhancing the quality of life and public safety, and protecting the environment and natural resources.”
If the M-Cores program succeeds with its objectives, Florida will have changed significantly. To the delight of some and the chagrin of others, major chunks of Florida will be much more accessible.
Of course, roads cannot be built without land. Many property owners will become subject to eminent domain if these roads are to be built. Eminent domain is the government’s power to take private property for public use. If the government has reasonable necessity and a public purpose for the taking, it will generally succeed in taking the property, even over the owner’s objection. Such an owner would then be due full compensation for the taking.
Pursuant to Florida law, attorneys and experts that work on behalf of property owners are paid for by the condemning authorities, which for these roads would be FDOT. Attorney compensation is typically based on how well they do for the owners.
While the government plows forward with ambitious infrastructure projects, owners don’t have to fend for themselves as they battle the state or if they just want someone on their side to walk them through the process and honestly let them know what to expect. Indeed, eminent domain attorneys are often happy to use their talent and resources even years ahead of a potential taking in order to keep owners up to date and monitor projects, such as those being considered by FDOT’s M-Cores task force. You may consider the attorney’s law firm your own task force; and it shouldn’t cost you a penny.