The initial M-CORES (Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance) bill passed was way too costly and would cause substantial environmental challenges. The original plan for a west coast interstate started in 1994, I believe.
I first heard of it after then Crystal River Mayor Curtis Rich returned from a workshop in Tallahassee. At that time, the plan was to take the newly purposed Suncoast Parkway to U.S. 19 at Red Level, extend the Florida Turnpike over to Red Level and make U.S. 19 a restricted access highway up through Georgia and possible further in the future. Small cities along the way would be bypassed. U.S. 19 is already a four-lane roadway with substantial right of way. A parallel road as purposed in M-CORES would have required a great deal of new right of way, not to mention going through environmentally sensitive land.
I am not a big fan of interstates and growth; I liked the Florida I moved to in 1988, but unfortunately greed often drives growth. Development brings in profit and jobs, so I seriously doubt it is going to stop anytime soon. Senate Transportation Chairwoman Gayle Harrel has pushed the new bill that would take things back closer to the ’94 idea. Unfortunately, much is still up in the air, and it appears she believes because of the COVID virus mess that the state has to look at roadway spending. From what I see and hear, the only thing the virus is doing in Florida is increasing our population. Property is selling fast to northerners fleeing the weather and dense populations. Planning ahead for the growth is the way growth should be managed not dealing with it after it becomes a disaster.
I am optimistic that the state recovery will happen as long as we don’t get stupid and think we can ignore the dangers of the virus and its mutated versions. For those of us who have been here through active hurricane seasons and witnessed the traffic mess as people flee south Florida, it is very obvious our current roadways are not adequate. We are due for a major hit in Florida and need to be prepared. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve are poor excuses for the loss of life. We need to stop changing plans every time we have a new Senate president, make a solid plan for growth and stick with it.
Roger B. Krieger