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M-CORES: New Coalition 'No Roads To Ruin' Sends Message to Gov. - Toll Roads Must be Stopped

Cris CostelloRyan SmartTALAHASSEE, FL – The M-CORES (Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance) has opposition coalescing as a new coalition of fifty-five organizations and businesses, the 'No Roads to Ruin' met at the State Capital on Thursday to begin a statewide campaign devoted to stopping Senate President Bill Galvano’s unneeded and costly plan for 300 plus miles of new toll roads.

M-CORES: No Roads To Ruin Coalition meets at the state capitol
Coalition members with their trademark 'NO BUILD' signs at the capitol. (Photo: Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River)

Within sight of Governor Ron DeSantis’ office, who in May signed the bill that created this threat to all Floridians, a crowd of over 40 coalition members and supporters, many holding up bright green “NO BUILD” placards, joined speakers from the Florida Springs Council, League of Women Voters of Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club, Florida Conservation Voters, Our Santa Fe River, and 100 Thousand Poets for Change in denouncing both the plan and the decision-makers responsible for it.

 Ryan Smart, Executive Director of the Florida Springs Council, said: “This is just the beginning. We are building a large, diverse coalition that will take a very hard line against these “Roads To Ruin” until they are stopped in their tracks. The task force process is nothing more than a sham. The Florida Legislature may think that highway interchanges, fast food, and sprawl equals progress, but the communities in the path of these roads have different values and deserved to be heard and served.”

Coalition partners, some present at the press conference, and others, joined a resounding chorus.

Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director, Progress Florida: “With so many health care, education, and infrastructure needs being underfunded, legislative leadership and Gov. DeSantis should be investing in projects that create a brighter future for all Floridians rather than spending billions of taxpayer dollars on these ‘roads to ruin’ championed by big developers and the Asphalt Industrial Complex.”

Herman Andres Younger, Sierra Club Organizing Representative:  “Private interests are meeting today in Hollywood for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Transportation, Growth, and Infrastructure Summit. Ananth Prasad, former FDOT secretary and now president of the Florida Transportation Builder’s Association will likely be speaking about how to build more roads and allegedly stimulate economic growth. But what he and the many other speakers at the Summit will likely fail to address is how new corridors will waste billions of taxpayer dollars while increasing pollution that will soon become irreversible damage to our climate.  What they should be talking about is clean, public transportation solutions.

Anne Harvey, Staff Attorney, Save the Manatee Club:  “Not since the Cross Florida Barge Canal has the state seen such a poorly conceived development project. Although the Canal was de-authorized prior to completion, its detrimental impacts persist. The M-CORES project will have adverse consequences on a similar scale, destroying priceless natural resources forever.”

Lindsay Cross, Government Relations Director, Florida Conservation Voters: “The only responsible option is ‘No Build.’”

Phil Kushlan, President, Friends of the Everglades:  On most road projects we can debate the trade-offs between benefits and dooming the affected environment to eventual development, but when a road is so poorly planned that the public can't even imagine any benefits to consider, it's clearly time to call it quits."

Peter Kleinhenz, President, Apalachee Audubon Society:  "One of the leading threats to wildlife in Florida is the fragmentation of habitat. The toll roads, by definition, will do just that." 

Katrina Shadix, Executive Director, Bear Warriors United:  “Vehicle strikes are the leading cause of death for Florida Black Bears and the nearly extinct Florida Panther.  If the three tolls rolls are built, it will have devastating impacts on all wildlife species and may push our iconic Florida Black Bear back on the state's endangered and threatened species list, as it was from 1974 to 2012.”

Judy Hushon, Natural Resources Issue Chair, League of Women Voters of Florida: “SB7068 was rushed through without adequate discussion by the relevant committees or chambers; many legislators had no time to even read it. The League of Women Voters of Florida objects to the denial of process, which resulted in an unpopular bill that will cost Florida taxpayers for many years to come." 

Alisa Coe, Staff Attorney, Earthjustice:  “A major statewide transportation project like this should not have been hurriedly steamrolled through the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. We’ve never seen anything like it. There was no Department of Transportation study calling for three new toll roads spanning the state and there is no accurate accounting of total cost.  It’s bad policy.” 

Allie Preston, Communications Director, Bullsugar.org:  "Taxpayer funded infrastructure that benefits a few billionaires with disastrous effects for the environment is a play we've seen before. Florida's remaining wild lands and waters are too precious to sacrifice to unrestrained sprawl."

Howard Kessler MD, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida:  “These roads will harm Floridians’ health. Sprawl is the type of growth that has often been compared to the growth of cancer.”

Sarah Gledhill, Senior Field Campaigner, Center for Biological Diversity:  Let’s clear up any misconception that we can clean up our waterways by building new roads.  This is nothing but a bait and switch tactic to get task force members to sign off on the sham.”

Mike Roth, President, Our Santa Fe River: “Putting a toll road through our environmentally sensitive springsheds will encourage further development that can only serve to inhibit aquifer recharge and promote wetland destruction.”

John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper:  "We need less fertilizer leaching into our springs and rivers and more water quality monitoring, not more roads gouging through our watersheds."

Ryan Smart is the Exec. Dir of the Florida Springs Council. Cris Costello is the Regional Manager of the Sierra Club

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