Promoting Transportation Options
Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities
Creating Safer, More Liveable Communities
Efficient transportation systems and thoughtful urban design are critical to developing growth patterns that promote environmental and economic sustainability. Florida’s historical land-use pattern of low-density suburban development has had profound impacts on our environment, increased the use of nonrenewable energy, devalued our inner cities, impacted our health, and isolated our communities.
Friends encourages innovative transportation and land-use solutions that provide a greater range of transportation options and help create more livable communities. 1000 Friends believes that improving roads and providing transportation alternatives “where the people are” is the highest and best use of transportation dollars. This involved investing valuable state dollars in maintaining and enhancing existing state road systems rather than building new ones.
Photo by Vivian Young
On May 17, 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law SB 7068, which establishes the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program, or M-CORES. During the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, 1000 Friends of Florida strongly opposed the bill because the corridors would impact vast tracts of some of Florida’s last remaining undeveloped natural and agricultural lands, promote unneeded roads that will stimulate sprawling development, and divert significant funding from addressing existing transportation problems in urbanized areas.
With the passage and funding of M-CORES, however, these roads are on a fast track to become a reality. 1000 Friends of Florida is identifying ways that citizens can participate in the planning process at the state, regional and local levels to better protect significant resources and curtail urban sprawl. To find out more about how you can help, please visit www.1000fof.org/mcores.
Florida’s Transportation Planning Process
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is responsible for planning, operating and maintaining the State Highway System and assisting local and regional governments with other transportation systems. FDOT is decentralized, with seven offices each managed by its own District Secretary. The FDOT Secretary leads the agency and reports directly to the Governor.
FDOT develops and updates the Florida Transportation Plan (FTP), updated every 5 years, which includes long range goals, objectives and strategies to meet the needs of Florida’s “entire transportation system.” FDOT is also responsible for the Strategic Intermodal Systems (SIS) Strategic Plan, also updated every 5 years, which includes corridors, facilities and services of statewide and multi-regional significance, and guides future state investments in and management of the SIS. Each year FDOT develops and adopts a five-year work program which includes all projects planned by the department for that period. Required by the federal government, the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) incorporates the first four years of FDOT’s Work Program.
Florida has two primary mechanisms for evaluating environmental, cultural and other impacts of new roadways and transportation systems. The Efficient Transportation Decision Making (EDTM) Process is Florida’s screening process to review the potential environmental and cultural impacts of certain transportation projects. This is intended to identify issues and resolve disputes before the project is forwarded to the federally mandated Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Process. PD&E includes environmental assessment, the drafting of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) when needed, public involvement, impact mitigation, environmental permits and more.
Other state agencies involved in Florida’s transportation planning process include the Department of Environmental Protection, which evaluates impacts of proposed projects on natural resources, air quality and other environmental issues; Florida’s five Water Management Districts, which assess potential impacts on water resources; and the Department of State, which evaluates impacts on cultural resources.
Florida’s first major planning initiative designed to incorporate environmental concerns related to the design of the Wekiva Parkway in Central Florida. In 2003, Gov. Jeb Bush created a broad-based committee of stakeholders to develop “enhanced land use planning strategies and development standards to protect water resources of the Wekiva River Basin” in the design and construction of the parkway. In 2004, Bush appointed a commission, also representing diverse interests, to oversee the project. The process has been widely hailed by conservationists as a model for highway planning.
In the final days of Gov. Bush’s administration, FDOT adopted Florida’s Future Corridors Action Plan to address the development of a series of transportation corridors, including some in similar locations to that proposed under M-CORES. This plan raised serious environmental and smart growth concerns and was subsequently shelved by Gov. Charlie Crist.
The Future Corridors concept was resurrected again under Gov. Scott and 1000 Friends convened meetings with conservation groups and FDOT Secretary Prasad to develop a series of conservation and evaluation principles. The corridors process was subsequently shelved by Gov. Scott.
Gov. DeSantis has revived corridor planning with M-CORES as described earlier. FDOT’s website currently includes a three-stage process for planning statewide corridors, but this has not been formally adopted by state statute.
Complete Streets are intended to serve the transportation needs of all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. Sometimes known as multi-modal transportation systems, complete streets are intended to make it easier and safer for people of all ages and abilities to use the community’s street network and get where they need to go. They are an important community design strategy that can increase safety, improve equity, contribute to public health, and reduce transportation costs and congestion.
The Florida Department of Transportation has a complete streets program, as do a number of county and municipal governments in Florida. Instead of just planning for roads, transportation initiatives are intended to focus on the needs of transporting all users.
Dangerous by Design
Year after year, Florida has the dubious distinction of having some of the most dangerous communities in the nation for pedestrians. Smart Growth America’s annually updated Dangerous by Design report indicates that in 2019 the Orlando, Daytona Beach, Melbourne, Sarasota, Lakeland, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, and Tampa-St. Petersburg metro areas ranked among the nation’s top 10. Not only are Complete Streets policies an important strategy to reduce pedestrian fatalities, they also promote public health by encouraging walking and bicycling, allowing seniors to age in place, and create a greater sense of community.
To address these and other concerns, over the years 1000 Friends has served on state and regional transportation boards, advocated in the halls of the legislature to improve public policy, conducted education and outreach initiatives to educate leaders and the public on these issues, and more.
M-CORES: Policy and Planning Implications for Florida’s Future
This webinar was conducted during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session when SB 7068 was up for consideration. This focuses on implications for state transportation policy, regional planning, and land and habitat conservation.
Implementing Complete Streets in Florida
Check out this 2018 informative update on Florida’s Complete Streets Program and strategies for local implementation.
Dangerous by Design: A Challenge for Change
Year after year, Florida has some of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the nation. This 2017 updates some strategies Florida is taking to address this problem.
Complete Streets Implementation in Florida
Find out about Florida’s Complete Streets Implementation Plan, prepared by FDOT and Smart Growth America and released in December 2015, and strategies FDOT undertook to integrate complete streets policies into manuals, policies and other documents.