Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
From Polk to Collier County
FDOT submits the three final task reports to Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature on November 12, 2020
During the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, 1000 Friends of Florida advocated strongly against the 330-mile corridor of toll roads proposed to extend from Collier County to the Florida Panhandle and known as M-CORES. With passage of the legislation, 1000 Friends accepted representation on the three task forces to help draft guidelines for each segment. These reports, released and submitted to Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature on November 12, 2020, are available here.
Despite strong advocacy by 1000 Friends’ representatives during the task force meetings, the representatives and our Board of Directors unanimously found the final recommendations falling short of the mandate in the 2019 law to protect the environment and revitalize rural communities. The recommendations do not do enough to stop the toll roads, if they are built, from fueling low-density residential and commercial development — urban sprawl — that would ruin this unspoiled part of Florida. For that reason, 1000 Friends did not support the reports. See 1000 Friends’ November 13 statement of concern , October 23 letter to FDOT, and Paul Owens’ November 13 Op Ed in the Orlando Sentinel for more information.
Part of the M-CORES project, the proposed Southwest-Central Connector extends 140 miles from Polk County south to Collier County. The planning area encompasses nine counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee and Polk Counties. Florida Department of Transportation District 1 Secretary L.K. Nandam is chairing the task force with Tracy A. Hood serving as co-chair.
Also involved in the planning process are representatives of the Southwest Florida and Central Florida Regional Planning Councils (RPCs), the South Florida and Southwest Florida Water Management Districts (WMDs), the Collier, Lee County, Charlotte-Punta Gorda, Heartland and Polk Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), representatives of the nine counties, impacted municipalities and others. Board member Andrew Dickman represents 1000 Friends on the Task Force. More information on some of these entities is included below.
Under the provisions of SB 7068, on August 1, 2019 FDOT established the Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force. In addition to general task force responsibilities outlined in SB 7068, the legislation also specifies that the Southwest-Central Connector Corridor Task Force shall also:
- “Address the impacts of the construction of a project within the corridor on panther and other critical wildlife habitat and evaluate in its final report: the need for acquisition of lands for state conservation or as mitigation for project conservation,” and
- “Evaluate wildlife crossing design features to protect panther and other critical wildlife habitat corridor connections.”
1000 Friends of Florida announcement on release of M-CORES report (1000 Friends of Florida, November 13, 2020)
1000 Friends President Paul Owens’ Op Ed on the Task Force Reports (Orlando Sentinel, November 13, 2020)
Letter to FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault indicating 1000 Friends does not support task force reports (1000 Friends of Florida, October 23, 2020)
Potential Impacts of the Southwest Central Florida Connector on the Florida Panther and Its Habitat (The Nature Conservancy)
Southwest-Central Florida Connector Citizen Primer (1000 Friends of Florida)
M-CORES: A Detour Around Accountability (1000 Friends of Florida and Sierra Club Florida Chapter)
PD & E Recommendations (1000 Friends of Florida)
Broadband, Economic Development and M-CORES (1000 Friends of Florida)
Southwest-Central Florida Corridor Primer
Southwest-Central Corridor Planning Entities
Visit the FDOT Southwest-Central Connector Page for the list of Task Force members
Task Force Chair and Co-Chair:
Chair: Florida Department of Transportation Southwest Florida District 1 Secretary L.K. Nandam, 863-519-2201
Co-Chair: FDOT District 7 Consutlant Project Management Engineer Tracy A. Hood
FDOT District 1 includes Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee & Polk Counties
Main Office: 801 N. Broadway Avenue, Bartow, Florida 33830-3809, (800) 292-3368
Southwest Area Office: 10041 Daniels Parkway, Ft. Myers, Florida 33913, (239) 225-1900
Hardee County Comprehensive Plan — not available online
The Lee Plan (Lee County, 2019)