Environmental groups urge Scott to rethink highway plan
A coalition of environmental groups (including 100o Friends of Florida, Audubon of Florida, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida) have sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott and the Department of Transportation, outlining their concerns with the recently renewed Future Corridors Action Plan.
The Future Corridors program (.pdf) aims to identify statewide transportation corridors that can be “significantly improved, transformed in function or design, or newly developed over the next 50 years.”
One portion of the plan involves the DOT’s review of the proposed Heartland Parkway, a toll route that would connect Orlando to the Immokalee area, and could potentially join with Alligator Alley. In 2007, Collier County commissioners voted 4-1 against the plan, a move that excited environmentalists, who have argued that the road could cause urban sprawl in an environmentally sensitive area of Central Florida.
According to a press release, the environmental groups who recently penned the letter to Scott and the DOT feel that a thorough evaluation of the proposed projects must be conducted, and should include the following considerations:
- Consideration of an overall regional and statewide growth vision plan
- Costs and economic feasibility of new infrastructure
- Environmental impacts of new roadways and construction
- A cost/benefit analysis of funding new roadways versus improving existing transportation corridors
“We want to emphasize that a number of the proposed corridor projects will significantly affect our past (and likely future) public investments in Florida’s natural lands and habitats,” the groups write. “One of the concerns expressed in 2006 regarding the proposed future corridors was that their development would accelerate development of environmentally sensitive lands slated for preservation as well as impacting existing publicly preserved lands, as the corridors were not designated with sensitivity to avoiding and minimizing impacts to important conservation areas.”
Read the letter, in full, here (.pdf).