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Project Name: Southwest-Central Florida Connector

Project Website: https://floridamcores.com/southwest-central-florida-connector-task-force/

Impacted Counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Polk

Condemning Authority: FDOT

Project Description:

3 toll roads study areas

The Southwest-Central Florida Corridor Study has begun. The route for this project is expected to be 140 miles long. Property acquisition is tentatively scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2021.

On May 17, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7068, creating the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) Program within the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in order to study the feasibility of three different regional corridors: The Suncoast Connector, The Northern Turnpike Connector, and The Southwest-Central Florida Connector. The three roads combined would be approximately 330 miles long.

The stated objective is to advance the construction of regional corridors that are intended to accommodate multiple modes of transportation and multiple types of infrastructure. This would include toll roads, trails, freight and passenger rail, and public transit; and multiple types of infrastructure, such as broadband, water and sewer services. FDOT is expected to perform a project evaluation, including a full Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study.

FDOT convened separate task forces to study each corridor. The first meeting was held on August 27, 2019 at the Tampa Convention Center. A list of upcoming meetings can be found below. The task forces will make recommendations regarding the potential economic and environmental impacts of the corridor and other factors as specified in the M-CORES legislation. Each task force was initially expected to issue a final report by October 1, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the task forces have been given an extension through November 15, 2020 to complete their final reports. Project design is scheduled to begin immediately after the task forces issue their reports. FDOT will perform a project evaluation according to its own rules, policies, and procedures.

If feasible, construction is expected to begin no later than December 31, 2022.

FDOT released a map showing where the corridors could be located along with existing roads.

Southwest Central Avoidance and Enhancement Areas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While no final route has been determined for this project, a study was previously done on a road with similar start and end points call the Heartland Parkway. A map of that route is here.

Southwest Central Florida Connector

The timeline for the project development process is here for your convenience.

The task force released a preliminary map of areas to be avoided for environmental and other concerns.

Southwest Central Florida Connector Avoidance Features Map Southwest Central Florida Connector Avoidance Map Legend

At the August 25, 2020 task force meeting, members decided to prepare a separate section in their guiding principles devoted to the potential impacts to the Florida panther. They also discussed the potential to improve existing roads and building smaller connector roads. They also discussed wanting a breakdown of all costs involved, including multiple categories of expenses like improvements to feeder roads, environmental costs, and the cost of purchasing properties for the project. A presentation was given regarding the first steps in choosing a route. That presentation is posted here.

SWCF_TF7_First-Steps-of-PathsCourses

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Upcoming Meetings:

October 20, 2020 – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Community Open House, Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center, 75 Taylor St, Punta Gorda, FL 33950 

Other Task Force Meeting Videos:

Task force meeting video 08/27/2019

Task force meeting video 10/24/2019 Part 1

Task force meeting video 10/24/2019 Part 2

Task force meeting video 12/09/2019 Part 1

Task force meeting video 12/09/2019 Part 2

News articles: 

The toll road is coming

No “no build” option reveals intent of toll roads

Who spoke up for adding 300 miles to Florida’s toll roads?

Routes for 3 new Florida tolls roads to be unveiled in January

Toll road routes could emerge in early 2020

DeSantis approved these toll roads

Florida Senate president calls transportation’s five-year planning ‘not realistic’ for toll roads projects

Floridians considering environmental impact of proposed road

Toll road task force meeting

Toll road that could transform Polk

Roads taking a toll on task force members as some struggle to understand need, origination

Toll road remains on fast track

Task forces will get more scrutiny over toll roads

$90 million proposed M-Cores budget not guaranteed

Toll road proposed between Polk, Collier County could shape the corridor’s future

Naples community provides input on proposed toll road from Polk to Collier

Bill Galvano: Toll road funding on track despite opposition

Debate Set to Continue Over New Florida Toll Roads

Project Toll Road Path February 11, 2020?

M-CORES could revolutionize state’s transportation system

State must preserve Florida panther as it paves Heartland Parkway (a/k/a Southwest Central Florida Connector)

Money for broadband access near toll roads advances in Senate

Toll road proposal draws out locals

Officials and task force members weigh multi-county project

Task force meetings will plan for new roads

FDOT damage avoidance graphic

Toll Roads to Avoid Sensitive Areas; Environmentalists Not Swayed

Map shows areas to avoid with new toll road

Frustration In Florida As State Announces Toll Road Development In Rural Areas

Broadband projects could be linked to toll roads

Toll road plan still woefully short on details

Florida House backs broadband expansion effort

Will new toll roads bring economic prosperity? It’s too soon to tell, but sides are drawn

FDOT works to fast track 3 proposed toll roads throughout Florida

Opinion: M-CORES, Southwest Central Florida Corridor will strike the right balance

Florida lawmakers quietly pave way for new toll roads this session

Toll road reports could get extension through 11/15/2020

Toll road options

Coronavirus pandemic underscores need for road projects

New Polk toll road: Panel considers ‘attraction’ sites

Point of View: Increasing access to broadband in rural communities will make our state stronger

New Florida toll roads: 3rd meeting focuses on automated traffic systems

Skepticism over proposed toll road between Orlando, Naples dominates webinar

Florida’s new toll roads project plows ahead with virtual meetings

First Amendment group opposes webinars on toll roads

Environmentalists Oppose Tying Broadband Expansion To Toll Roads

Jim Tatum: New roads being pushed at worst possible time

Transportation Funds Allocated to MCORES in Bill Signed June 9, 2020

Broadband expansion needed sooner than later

Toll road task forces offer webinars

State Makes Changes On Toll Road Sessions

Controversial toll road project funding is still intact amid $1 billion in state budget cuts

Ron DeSantis approved $738 million for Florida’s controversial new toll roads

Controversial Florida toll road project gets boost in trimmed budget

What’s next for the Florida panther: From COVID-19 to new toll roads and beyond

Put the brakes on MCORES toll roads

‘Hybrid’ meetings set for planned toll roads

EDITORIAL: Maybe put toll roads on hold

Task force members still confused about process, need for proposed toll roads

Point of View: Now is the time for M-CORES

Nature of Things: Toll-road task forces power ahead

In the Know: The intersection with the pandemic, a $1 billion loss in one month and two possible local toll expressways

M-CORES toll roads a big step forward for Florida

Alachua County rejects state’s plan for new toll roads

Guest opinion: Proposed roads will take their toll on Florida panther

Why pave over rural Florida?

State Continues ‘Hybrid’ Meetings On Toll Roads

These are the roads to Florida’s future

Task Forces On Proposed New Florida Toll Roads Meet This Week

Reason Foundation Study Shows the State Can Make Billions With 50-Year Lease of the Florida Turnpike

As toll road plan is hotly debated, study says leasing turnpikes would save Florida taxpayers billions

The Nature of Things: Economic Numbers Matter

FDOT seeks input through hybrid means

New toll roads pose a threat to a less spoiled part of Florida | Commentary

State should address critic’s concerns over superhighway extensions, but not end projects

Tax group questions basis for Suncoast Connector

Kill these 3 toll roads to nowhere before they do real harm

New infrastructure is critical for Florida

Florida accused of push for ‘roads to nowhere’ under cover of pandemic

New study refutes benefits of 3 proposed toll roads in Florida

Analysis: 3 planned toll roads, including project from Polk to Collier, not fiscally feasible

Study says new roads won’t fix Florida

M-CORES groups set to review recommendations

Environmentalists say new toll road would threaten Florida panthers

Still no answers from task forces looking into proposed Florida toll roads

Task force navigates Florida panther protection during toll road meeting

Report: Polk-to-Collier toll road shouldn’t plow new path

Outgoing Senate President Bill Galvano defends toll road projects

Task forces: Florida’s $10B toll-road plan is a ‘want,’ not a ‘need’

This Florida lawmaker’s toll roads project doesn’t have a public need. He still wants it.

Residents in path of Florida toll road react to report with fear, acceptance and anticipation

Public scrutiny ahead for Florida’s massive bond-financed toll road program

Toll road report now available online

FDOT held a New Toll Road Community Open House in Trenton

State needs don’t include toll roads

Task Force could not agree on need for a giant toll road

Collier commissioners show M-CORES support, with conditions

Thousands of public comments show overwhelming opposition to M-CORES toll-road projects

Opponents question information on toll roads

Critics of Florida toll roads projected to run through wild areas say the planning process is not transparent

State covered up opposition to toll road, group says

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