M-CORES: An Overview
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Impacting Rural Lands
Please participate in the upcoming FDOT M-CORES Task Force Meetings and Open Houses. Click on the FDOT link for more details and to register to participate and speak:
September 23, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Northern Turnpike Corridor OPEN HOUSE 6, FDOT Registration Link Here
September 23, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Southwest-Central Florida Corridor TASK FORCE MEETING 8, FDOT Registration Link Here
September 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Suncoast Corridor TASK FORCE MEETING 8, FDOT Registration Link Here
September 24, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Southwest-Central Florida Corridor OPEN HOUSE 6, FDOT Link Here
September 29, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Suncoast Corridor OPEN HOUSE 7, FDOT Link Here
September 29, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Southwest-Central Florida Corridor OPEN HOUSE 7, FDOT Link Here
October 19, 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m., Southwest Central Florida Corridor TASK FORCE MEETING 9, Details Pending
October 20, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Suncoast Corridor TASK FORCE MEETING 9, FDOT Link Here
October 21, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Northern Turnpike Corridor TASK FORCE MEETING 9, FDOT Link Here
October 21, 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m., Southwest Central Florida Corridor OPEN HOUSE 8, Details Pending
October 22, 5:30 to 7:30, Northern Turnpike Corridor OPEN HOUSE 7, FDOT Link Here
October 22, 5:30 to 7:30, Suncoast Corridor OPEN HOUSE 8, FDOT Link Here
November 15, TASK FORCE REPORTS SUBMITTED TO GOVERNOR & LEGISLATURE
NEW! See The Nature Conservancy’s September 18, 2020 study, Potential Impacts of the Southwest Central Florida Connector on the Florida Panther and Its Habitat. August 20, 2020 — 1000 Friends of Florida and Sierra Club Florida Chapter release M-CORES: A Detour Around Accountability, focusing on financial and procedural issues associated with the M-CORES toll roads. It draws attention to the lack of ongoing gubernatorial and legislative oversight for a project that could cost upwards of $26.4 billion over the next decade, without any preliminary determination of need or financial feasibility. For these reasons, we are calling on Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature to take action during the upcoming Special Session or during the 2021 Florida Legislative Session to cease funding Florida M-CORES to allow our state to address much more pressing needs.
The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program, or M-CORES, was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 17, 2019. M-CORES authorizes the design and construction of three new tolled road corridors through rural Florida:
• Suncoast Connector extending from Jefferson County to Citrus County
• Northern Turnpike Connector extending from the Suncoast Connector south to the Florida Turnpike northwest
• Southwest-Central Florida Connector extending from Polk County to Collier County; a previous highway planned for the route was called the Heartland Parkway
During the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, 1000 Friends of Florida opposed the bill that authorized the M-CORES program, Senate Bill 7068, because we believe building new highways in the designated corridors will put at risk rural communities, vulnerable lands and waters, and wildlife – not just from the highways, but also from the sprawl they would generate. We also believe there are higher priorities for investing limited dollars to meet Florida’s most pressing transportation needs.
But once SB 7068 passed, 1000 Friends accepted appointments to each of the three task forces created by the bill to offer input on the design and planning of the highways from positions of influence, raise any concerns about the process, and try to minimize or eliminate the impacts from the proposed roads on some of Florida’s best remaining rural lands.
We continue to educate the public on how to provide input into M-CORES. See the information below on additional resources provided by 1000 Friends of Florida, including Citizen Primers, Natural Resources Maps, media coverage, webinars and more. We update this page regularly to provide you with the latest information so please check back.
Check out recent Op Eds by 1000 Friends of Florida Board Members and staff on 1000 Friends’ recent Op Eds page
M-CORES will divert more than $100 million per year from the state General Revenue Fund for planning, design and initial construction of the three corridors, which are “tolled facilities and approved turnpike projects that are part of the turnpike system and are considered as Strategic Intermodal System facilities.” The bill also authorizes the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT or “the department”) to borrow billions of additional dollars from turnpike revenue bonds, public private partnerships and myriad other sources to complete construction.
The stated objective is to “advance the construction of regional corridors that are intended to accommodate multiple modes of transportation and multiple types of infrastructure.” Goals outlined in the legislation include to address hurricane evacuation, congestion mitigation, trade and logistics, broadband, water and sewer connectivity, energy distribution, autonomous and other vehicle technology, mobility as a service, availability of trained workforce, protection or enhancement of wildlife corridors or environmentally sensitive areas, and protection or enhancement of primary springs protection zones and farmland preservation areas designated within local comprehensive plans.
Covering All the Bases: Effective Engagement in the M-CORES Process
SB 7068 was signed into law in 2019, authorizing the construction of three new tolled roadways through close to 350 miles of some of Florida’s best natural and agricultural lands. In this webinar, presenters provide an overview of M-CORES and transportation planning in Florida, as well as shortcomings in the M-CORES process and strategies for effective engagement.
M-CORES (The Heartland and Suncoast Expressways): Policy and Planning Implications for Florida’s Future
SB 7068 was passed during the 2019 Legislative Session and signed into law. It created M-CORES, or the “multi-use corridors of regional economic significance program” to be implemented by the Florida Department of Transportation. Conducted prior to the passage of the legislation, this webinar focuses on SB 7068’s implications for state transportation policy, regional planning, and land and habitat conservation.
Also see these and other op eds at 1000 Friends’ op ed page
Opinion–Tim Jackson: Planned M-CORES highways solve problem that isn’t there (Orlando Sentinel, April 30, 2020)
Opinion–Susan Trevarthen: With COVID-19-related budget cuts looming, Florida should kill budget-busting road projects
(Sun-Sentinel, April 3, 2020)
Opinion–Lee Constantine: M-CORES expressway planners must think green (Orlando Sentinel, 1/23/20)
Opinion–Vicki Tschinkel: Florida’s three proposed toll roads cut through precious natural land (Tampa Bay Times, 1/12/19)
Opinion–Tim Jackson: Miami-Dade commuters’ tolls will pay for North Florida roads they won’t use (Miami Herald, 12/12/19)
Opinion–Paul Owens: Veto this $10 billion ‘boondoggle’ highway bill, Gov. DeSantis (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5/2/19)
Commentary—Paul Owens: 1000 Friends: Galvano’s highway plans will bring environmental ruin (Orlando Sentinel, 4/24/19)
Opinion–Thomas Hawkins: Toll expressways plan threatens north central Florida (Gainesville Sun, 4/2/19)
Opinion–Thomas Hawkins: New toll expressways a boondoggle, not boon (Tampa Bay Times, 3/19/19)
July 1, 2019
The “M-CORES” Act takes effect
August 1, 2019
The Secretary of FDOT shall appoint the members of the three corridor task forces
November 15, 2020
Each task force shall submit its final report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (due to COVID-19 the deadline was extended from the previous deadline of October 2020).
December 31, 2022
To the maximum extent feasible, construction of the projects shall start no later than this date
December 31, 2023
Each affected local government with an interchange within its jurisdiction shall review the applicable task force report to determine whether its local comprehensive plan should be amended “to provide appropriate land uses and natural resources protections”
July 1, 2030
The corridors shall be open to traffic no later than this date