Suncoast Connector

Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities

Jefferson to Citrus County

Sign Up for 1000 Friends’ FREE Webinar, M-CORES: What’s Next, from noon to 1:30 on Tuesday, December 8

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.

Helpful Resources:

Final M-CORES Suncoast Task Force Report (FDOT)

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 final task force reports (October 23, 2020)

Suncoast Corridor:

Suncoast Corridor Citizen Primer (1000 Friends of Florida)

The Suncoast Connector:  What we still need to know (Florida TaxWatch)

Vulnerability of the Suncoast Connector Study Area (University of Florida)

All Corridors:

Letter to FDOT Secretary Thibault outlining grave concerns with M-CORES task force reports (1000 Friends of Florida, October 8, 2020)

M-CORES:  A Detour Around Accountability  (1000 Friends of Florida and Sierra Club Florida Chapter)

PD & E Recommendations (1000 Friends of Florida)

Guiding Principles Recommendations and Cover Letter (1000 Friends of Florida)

Broadband, Economic Development and M-CORES (1000 Friends of Florida)

Overview

Part of the M-CORES project, the Suncoast Connector is planned to extend 150 miles from Jefferson to Citrus County with the planning process impacting eight predominantly rural counties: Citrus, Dixie, Gilchrist, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, and Taylor. Florida Department of Transportation District 2 Secretary Greg Evans is chairing the task force with Jason Peters serving as co-chair.

Also involved in the planning process are representatives of the Tampa Bay, North Central and Apalachee Regional Planning Councils (RPCs), the Northwest Florida, Suwannee River and Southwest Florida Water Management Districts (WMDs), the Hernando/Citrus and Capital Regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), representatives of the counties and some municipalities and others. Former Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins represents 1000 Friends of Florida on the Task Force.  More information on each of these entities is included below.

​SB 7068 establishes a task force for each of the three corridors, including the Suncoast Connector. In addition to general task force responsibilities outlined in SB 7068, the legislation also specifies that the Suncoast Connector Corridor Task Force shall also:

“…evaluate design features and the need for acquisition of state conservation lands that mitigate the impacts of project construction within the respective corridors on:

• The water quality and quantity of springs, rivers, and aquifer recharge areas;

• Agricultural land uses;

• Wildlife habitat.”

Suncoast Connector Map
FDOT M-CORES SUNCOAST STUDY AREA

Suncoast Corridor Resources

 

Visit FDOT’s Suncoast page for list of current Task Force Members

FDOT District Offices:
Task Force Chair: Northeast Florida District 2 Secretary Greg Evans, 386-961-7800

Main Office: 1109 South Marion Avenue, Lake City, Florida 32025-5874, (800) 749-2967

Task Force Co-Chair: Northwest Florida District 3 Secretary Phillip Gainer, 850-330-1200

Main Office: 1074 Highway 90, Chipley, Florida 32428-0607, (888) 638-0250

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (Due to the rural nature of these counties, many do not have MPOs):

Capital Region TPA (Jefferson County)

Hernando-Citrus MPO

Water Management Districts:

Northwest Florida Water Management District (western half of Jefferson County)

Suwannee River Water Management District (Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Taylor, Union and portions of Jefferson & Levy Counties)

Southwest Florida Water Management District (Citrus and part of Levy County)

Local Government Comprehensive Plans for Impacted Counties:

Citrus County Comprehensive Plan

Dixie County Comprehensive Plan (2011)

Gilchrist County Comprehensive Plan (2013) — No longer available online

Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan, Future Land Use Map, Land Development Code (2015)

Lafayette County Comprehensive Plan — Not available online

Levy County Comprehensive Plan — Not available online

Levy County Springs Protection Element, Springs Protection Zone Map

Madison 2035 Comprehensive Plan

Taylor County Comprehensive Plan, FLUM, Transportation and Conservation Maps, Data and Analysis,

 

Regional Planning Councils (RPCs):

Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (Citrus County)

North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, & Taylor Counties)

Apalachee Regional Planning Council (Jefferson County)

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