Northern Turnpike Connector
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter Counties
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 Northern Turnpike Connector extends southeast from the Suncoast Connector to the northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike. The planning area encompasses Citrus, Levy, Marion and Sumter Counties. Florida Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Tom Byron chairs the task force with Florida Turnpike Director Christina Colon serving as co-chair.
Also involved in the planning process are representatives of the Tampa Bay, East Central, North Central and Apalachee Regional Planning Councils (RPCs), the Suwannee River, Southwest Florida and St. John’s River Water Management Districts (WMDs), the Hernando/Citrus, Ocala/Marion and Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), representatives of the three counties, impacted municipalities and others. President Paul Owens is representing 1000 Friends of Florida on the Task Force. More information on each of these entities is included below.
Under the provisions of SB 7068, on August 1, 2019 FDOT established the Northern Turnpike Connector Task Force. In addition to general task force responsibilities outlined in SB 7068, the legislation also specifies that the Northern Turnpike Connector Corridor Task Force shall:
“…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.”
Visit FDOT’s M-CORES Northern Turnpike Page for more information on meetings, and 1000 Friends’ M-CORES page for links to resources including citizen primers, maps and webinar broadcasts. Check out these recent Op Eds by 1000 Friends of Florida.
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 report (October 23, 2020)
Northern Turnpike Corridor:
Northern Turnpike Citizen Primer (1000 Friends of Florida)
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)
Broadband, Economic Development and M-CORES (1000 Friends of Florida)
Northern Turnpike Corridor Resources
Northern Turnpike Corridor Planning Entities
Visit the FDOT Northern Turnpike Connector Page for the list of Task Force members
Task Force Chair and Co-Chair:
Chair: Florida Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Tom Byron
Co-Chair: Christina Colon, Florida Turnpike Director
FDOT District Office Secretaries:
Northeast Florida District 2 Secretary Greg Evans, 386-961-7800 (Levy County)
Main Office: 1109 South Marion Avenue, Lake City, Florida 32025-5874, (800) 749-2967
Central Florida District 5 Secretary Mike Shannon, 386-943-5474 (Sumter and Marion Counties)
Main Office: 719 South Woodland Boulevard, DeLand, Florida 32720, (800) 780-7102
West Central Florida District 7 Secretary David Gwynn, 813-975-6000 (Citrus County)
Main Office: 11201 N. Malcolm McKinley Drive, Tampa, Florida 33612-6403, (800) 226-7220