Expanding 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.

Red Trolly
Photo by Vivian Young

Transportation Planning in Florida

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.  Many other agencies are involved in transportation planning, including the federal government, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, Expressway Authorities, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Planning Councils, county and municipal governments and more.

Most transportation projects rely on an amalgam of federal, state and/or local public funding so multiple review processes may apply and include opportunities for public input.  The transportation planning process is quite complex but also includes opportunities for public involvement. As is always the case, the earlier citizens engage in the process the greater the chance of making a difference in the outcome.

Highway Exit

Corridor Planning

Corridor Planning is often undertaken in state and/or regional transportation planning and involves a comprehensive analysis of a transportation corridor.  Florida’s first major corridor planning initiative designed to incorporate environmental concerns related to the Wekiva Parkway in Central Florida, which resulted in the Wekiva River Basin Coordinating Committee Final Report.  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.

Wekiva River Article
Wekiva River Report


The corridor concept was revived in Florida  with the M-CORES project, although not following sound planning principles previously espoused.  Authorized under 2019 legislation, M-CORES (Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance) called for creation of a 330-mile corridor of toll roads through 19 predominantly rural counties in western Florida.  As part of the process, three task forces were convened and developed recommendations on planning and designing toll roads in these corridors.  The M-CORES legislation was repealed in 2021, but more limited proposals for toll and other roadways in the three corridors continue to move forward. 

1000 Friends was very proud to take a leading role in efforts to “put the brakes” on M-CORES but remain cognizant that segments are likely to be resurrected. 1000 Friends developed robust tools and information to identify concerns with the proposal.  Visit 1000 Friends of Florida’s M-CORES webpages to find out more about this project and its status.  You may also check out specific information on the proposed Suncoast Connector, Northern Turnpike Connector, and Southwest-Central Florida Connector. While focused specifically on M-CORES, citizen primers, op eds, planning issues, and resource maps are available that may provide guidance when evaluating other transportation and infrastructure projects.

FDOT Planning Tools

Traditional transportation planning focused primarily on using automobiles to move people and goods as quickly and efficiently as possible to move from point A to point B.  But in recent decades, there has been growing awareness of the negative impact this has on our communities and quality of life.  Alternative approaches in Florida (and elsewhere) include:

Multimodal Planning is intended to “… provide safe and efficient facilities for all types of transportation including vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, freight, and transit.” It involves greater coordination between land development and transportation than in the past.  Strategies may include changes to land use policies, projects with bike paths to serve a wider variety of users or narrowing roadways to reduce speed and enhance safety.

Complete Streets in Florida was adopted through FDOT’s Complete Streets Policy in 2014.  According to FDOT, “a Complete Street is one that is designed for users of all ages and abilities – including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit vehicles, freight handlers, and motorists. These transportation facilities are context-sensitive, and in Florida, they vary widely based on each community’s location, desires, and needs. Regardless of context, all of Florida’s Complete Streets strive to provide a multitude of benefits, including ‘increased safety, enhanced mobility, improved connectivity, enriched quality of life, and economic development.’”

Context Classification is a tool used by FDOT to “put the right street in the right place.”  It includes eight classifications for roadways which “together with its transportation characteristics, provides information about who the users are along the roadway, the regional and local travel demand of the roadway, and the challenges and opportunities of each roadway user.”  FDOT also reviews local comprehensive plans, land development regulations and other local planning tools to help determine the classification.  This helps shape design features including speed, bicycle and pedestrian facilities and more.

The FDOT Design Manual includes the principles of Complete Streets as “the foundation of all roadway planning, design, construction, and operations in the state.”  It also includes the Context Classification Guide.  The Design Manual is updated annually, and the 2022 update will include additional information on target speed setting.

Dangerous by Design

Year after year, Florida has the dubious distinction of having some of the most dangerous communities in the nation for pedestrians, according to Smart Growth America.  Dangerous by Design 2022 reveals that Florida had 7 of the top 20 most dangerous roads in the nation, including Deltona-Daytona-Ormond Beach (1), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (4), Jacksonville (6), Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (8), Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville (12), Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (14), and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton (19).   Complete Streets policies an important strategy to reduce pedestrian fatalities and 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.

Car Crash
Promoting Transportation Equity in Florida
1000 Friends of Florida Board Member Bob Cambric provides a brief overview of why equity has been and continues to be an issue in transportation planning.  Jennifer Marshall, Director for the Florida Department of Transportation Office of Environmental Management, describes steps FDOT is taking to enhance equity within its planning process and an overview of initiatives underway in counties and municipalities across the state. Manatee County Commissioner Reginald “Reggie” Bellamy discusses the Palmetto Trails project, focusing on efforts provide better transportation linkages within an underserved community and promote greater economic vitality. Bob Cambric and Vivian Young, AICP, moderate the question-and-answer session.
​Victor Dover on “The Car-Optional Neighborhood:  How should it be designed?
Coauthor of the landmark book Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns and principal / cofounder of Dover, Kohl & Partners, Victor Dover FAICP shares essential strategies for designing and retrofitting neighborhoods that support all the ways of moving around. He will show case studies and reveal how to create sustainable, walkable, well-loved neighborhoods.
Induced Traffic Demand: You can’t build your way out of traffic congestion

​Two nationally respected transportation engineers discuss fostering a more multidisciplinary design approach to transportation planning. Walter Kulash, P.E., an independent public-interest transportation engineer, explains how the existing transportation planning process fosters induced traffic (the more roads governments build, the more car trips people take); state-of-the-art methods for predicting induced traffic; and a case study of the Miami SR 836 expansion. G. Wade Walker, P.E., Hon. ASLA, Senior Principal Engineer with Kittelson & Associates in Orlando, provides detailed case studies on the effects of “road diets” in Memphis and Chattanooga, TN and Charlotte, NC.

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.