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Future Corridors: planning or payola?

Future Corridors - Corncerns

July 20, 2012

Published by Florida Voices  – Senator Paula Dockery continues to serve Floridian by providing an insider’s look of the Future Corridors program.

By: Paula Dockery

Florida needs an integrated and well-maintained transportation system.

But the cost of building and maintaining roads far exceeds the money the state has for that work. We have an infrastructure deficit. Despite not having the necessary funds through tolls and general revenue dollars to proceed with the projects already included in the work program, well-connected landowners have applied political pressure to purchase rights-of-way and build new toll roads to direct development near their land.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) describes this plan, the Future Corridors, as a cooperative effort with the Florida Transportation Commission to work with statewide, regional, and local partners to identify corridors that will be significantly improved, transformed or built over the next 50 years.

Wow, that sounds pretty good.  Could this be a visionary plan or simply a way to direct road building to people with the right political connections?

Well, let’s look at some of the major players and their roles in how this program got started and how it weathered three gubernatorial administrations.

The Future Corridors Program generally refers to at least four toll roads that would crisscross the state’s rural areas to spur economic growth. Over the past six to eight years, a well-hatched plan was put into motion often with the Legislature and FDOT taking action that got little or no scrutiny. Some examples:

The Need for a State Report:

A group of politically influential landowners primarily based in the state’s interior organized to devise a plan. With the help of lobbyists and a few like-minded legislators, they urged Gov. Jeb Bush to support their plan to acquire right-of-way and to start planning highway projects.  “Florida’s Future Corridors Action Plan” was released in 2006 by FDOT “in cooperation with its partners.”

The Legislature designates areas of critical state concern:

Read the complete article: http://www.floridavoices.com/columns/paula-dockery/future-corridors-planning-or-payola

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