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Fried Urges Pause on Toll Road Projects

Photo: News Service of Florida
Photo: News Service of Florida

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants the state to halt a plan to create new toll roads. She says the money for that project could be better used as lawmakers face a budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic. WFSU’s Blaise Gainey reports.

Three Department of Transportation task forces sent project recommendations Thursday to lawmakers. The reports show the toll roads are expected to require more than 100 million dollars a year. Fried says that would “put an unnecessary strain on the state’s ability to fund urgent priorities.”

Fried has also raised concerns about the environmental impacts of the roads. After the reports were released, several environmental groups were quick to note that the task force findings don’t point to an immediate need for the corridors.

The projects would extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus to Jefferson County, extend Florida’s Turnpike from Wildwood to connect with the Suncoast Parkway and create a new road linking Polk and Collier counties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in 2019 that initially approved the projects, with plans for construction to start in January 2023. The roads would be finished by 2030.

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