The Phoenix Flyer

Another former FL governor advises DeSantis to veto multi-billion-dollar toll road scheme

By: - May 15, 2019 11:07 am

Charlie Crist

Another former Florida governor is advising Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto the Legislature’s proposed multi-billion statewide toll road plan, amid protests around the state against what one longtime Florida environmentalist called “the worst environmental bill in twenty years.”

Former Gov. – now U.S. Rep. – Charlie Crist, joins former Gov. (and former U.S. Sen.)  Bob Graham in calling for DeSantis to veto the toll road bill (SB 7068).

“I vetoed a similar bill during my time as Governor because there are smarter ways to grow and develop our transportation infrastructure – investing in public transportation, updating our current road and bridge system, and prioritizing sustainable growth,” Crist said in a statement. “A prudent approach would be to invest this funding in the infrastructure of the future, rather than doubling down on the mistakes of the past. I hope Governor DeSantis vetoes this bill.”

At least 90 groups have gone on record asking DeSantis to veto the measure, which would dedicate billions to toll roads that haven’t been called for or vetted in any state transportation plan. Legislators voted on it without having any exact routes to look at – just general corridors. And the Republican-led Legislature rejected calls to increase oversight and approvals by local governments. The toll road plan was a top priority for state Sen. President Bill Galvano.

As the Phoenix reported, one of the routes would benefit already approved development plans on land owned Florida’s richest man. The billionaire, Thomas Peterffy, is a major DeSantis campaign donor who has a mansion on Billionaire’s Row in Palm Beach and is reportedly a member of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

Crist said the toll road plan is not only unwise from a planning standpoint, but from an environmental and cultural one:

“It is paramount that we keep Florida’s agricultural and natural heritage alive, protect the livelihoods of rural Floridians, and preserve the habitats of native wildlife,” Crist said.

Last week, former Gov. Graham and members of the group he chairs, the Florida Conservation Coalition, sent a letter to urging a toll road bill veto. The letter referred to Teddy Roosevelt, since DeSantis has described himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican.” The letter quotes Roosevelt: “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”

“We hope you will take these words of President Theodore Roosevelt to heart and veto SB 7068,” Graham’s letter said. The toll road plan “will diminish the impact of the billions of dollars the state has committed to address water pollution and Everglades restoration and threaten your administration’s environmental legacy,” Graham’s letter said.

Here’s a list of previous Phoenix stories about the toll road plan:

Former Gov. Bob Graham asks Gov. DeSantis to veto multi-billion-dollar toll road plan and bill that punishes anyone who challenges development ;  Legislature’s planned road project could benefit Florida’s richest manVague, multi-billion-dollar plan to build new toll roads across Florida passes Legislature; Ignoring pleas for more scrutiny and local control, Republicans advance multi-billion dollar toll road planGroups blast Legislature’s proposed new toll road plan as “worst ever” bill; Who needs trees? We want toll roads!Sierra Club: If DeSantis says he is a ‘Teddy Roosevelt” Republican, he should veto massive toll road scheme


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Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.