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Florida residents concerned by highway expansion

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2021 | Land Use |

Several counties in North Central Florida are seeing a dramatic wave of backlash from residents there. The cause for concern is a plan that’s been proposed by the Department of Transportation. The plans raised some red flags among many of the people living in the area, some who have been there for decades.

In early 2021, the majority of all M-CORES toll road projects came to a grinding halt as a direct result of Senate Bill 100. This bill caused the elimination of road projects all the way from Collier to Jefferson County, while planning associated with the Northern Turnpike Extension was left in place.

The greatest point of contention

The Department of Transportation’s road project proposition includes a total of four different alternate roadways. Of these, the most concerning to residents is a route that would serve as a connection from the Florida Turnpike Northern Extension in Wildwood and go all the way through Citrus, Levy, Marion, and Sumter counties – all rural areas.

The two sides of this issue are growth and preserving agricultural lands. City planners and residents alike are worried about what these new road projects will do to farms, dividing them and reducing the overall amount of land that farmers have to work with.

In certain cases, the government has the power to take ownership of private property to convert it for public use. This is called eminent domain, and it’s how the Department of Transportation plans to take land away from farmers and turn it into more highways.

Among the main reasons why locals found the new plan hard to swallow was that many of the counties were only informed of it less than a month before the proposition. Without enough time to prepare for the myriad changes that must be considered, it’s hard to find a city official who is pleased with this course of action by the Department of Transportation.

Although many of the residents are willing to admit that growth is often necessary, they’re saying that now isn’t the right time. What’s meant to be a system of alternate routes to make travel easier may actually harm the agriculture industry and cause no shortage of difficulties for locals.