Tolls on Florida’s Turnpike are increasing by .25 cents to help offset the costs of planning for and building some major new thoroughfares criss-crossing the state. So far where these new roads will be and how they will be paid for remains a point of discussion by everyone, but it has been decided the state needs new roads and so planning should start as soon as possible.
For drivers the roads may mean better access and a faster trip to more isolated parts of the state. Or, they may not.
Not so long ago Florida officials had been embarking on a campaign to build one of the nations most complete and effective high-speed rail systems to transport large groups of people all around the state. The idea was that high speed rail would connect Central Florida (home of Disney World and dozens of other major tourist destinations) with outlying parts of the state including Miami, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville. However, the current governor scrapped that plan in favor of simply building more roads. Unfortunately, where those roads will be built has been a point of contention between landowners, environmentalists, developers and politicians, with each group vying for the roads to be where they would be most likely to use them.
Florida is spending tens of thousands of dollars to help officials figure out where to put roads in the future.
But the state isn’t just talking to drivers stuck in traffic.
Instead, as part of its “future corridors” effort, the state is spending as much as $106,000 to have consultants interview major landowners across the state and find out about their development plans. The consultants are also supposed to come up with ways that the state could strike deals with these landowners to set aside land for what would most likely be toll roads.
The consultants include two former top executives from the St. Joe Company, the once-formidable real estate development firm that was forced to scale back its own efforts amid the collapse of the housing market.