M-CORES: An Overview
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Impacting Rural Lands
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 also continue to educate the public on how to provide input into M-CORES through our website, citizen primers, GIS-based mapping, webinars, media coverage, email alerts, and other means.
In 2014, 1000 Friends partnered with other conservation organizations and then FDOT staff, including then Secretary Prasad, to develop a series of conservation and evaluation principles that can provide useful guidance for the M-CORES process. There are opportunities for citizens and local governments to help shape the outcome. This site will be updated regularly with more information on how you can participate as it becomes available.
UPCOMING M-CORES EVENTS:
- December 10 — Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force Meeting #3 (LaBelle)
- December 12 — Southwest-Central Florida Connector Community Open House (Naples)
- December 17 — Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #3 (Perry)
- December 18 — Northern Turnpike Connector Task Force Meeting #3 (Ocala)
- December 19 — Northern Turnpike Connector Community Open House (Wildwood)
- December 19 — Suncoast Connector Community Open House (Mayo)
Visit FDOT’s M-CORES site for more information
- 1000 Friends of Florida M-CORES Natural Resources Maps
- FDOT Interactive Maps (scroll to middle of page)
- Defenders of Wildlife GIS Map
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.
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
October 1, 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
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