ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Efforts are underway to convince Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto the expansion of toll roads across the state.
- Multiple protests planned statewide over bill for 3 new toll roads
- Protest at Williams Park in St. Pete at 5 p.m.
- Bill passed 76-36 May 1
- LINK: Read Senate Bill 7068
There are protests this week in different cities, including one in St. Petersburg.
The bill to approve the most aggressive toll road expansion Florida has seen in 60 years is awaiting the governor's signature. Senate Bill 7068 passed 76-36 May 1.
According to legislators, the bill calls for three highways to spur job growth in rural areas, relieve congestion on Interstates 75 and 4 and provide new hurricane evacuation routes.
One would connect Collier County in the southwest to Lakeland, located between Tampa and Orlando. Another would extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to Jefferson County, which borders Georgia.
The other would extend from the north end of the Florida Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway.
The Sierra Club doesn't want the bill approved and will stage three demonstrations Tuesday across the state. Environmental groups will protest at Williams Park in St. Pete at 5 p.m.
Also, there will be a flash mob at Bo Diddley Plaza in Gainesville. The choreographed 4 p.m. event will include activists and officials from Center for Biological Diversity, Florida Springs Council and Rum 138.
The Sierra Club will participate in both the Tuesday and Wednesday protests.
The conservation chair for the Sierra Club said the roads will cost more than $1 billion and will be bad for the environment.
"We don't need these areas to be developed," said Tim Martin. "We don't need these new roads."
State legislators that approved the plan say the new roads will ease trafic congestion as well as significantly speed hurricane evacuation and ultimately save lives.
"It's not just hundreds of miles of highways, it's the ensuing sprawl that comes with it," Martin said. "So if this were just a highway maybe some of the agricultural communities would be impacted a little bit less, but whats going to happen is you are going to have new subdivisions, strip malls and all that that are going to follow."
All of the protests are efforts to get the attention of DeSantis as he decides whether to sign off on the toll road plan.