The Phoenix Flyer

Sierra Club: If DeSantis says he is a ‘Teddy Roosevelt” Republican, he should veto massive toll road scheme

By: - May 6, 2019 2:10 pm

Sierra Club’s toll road veto ad

The approved master development plan

Gov. Ron DeSantis calls himself a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican” – referring to his professed support for environmental protection. Now, the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club is using the governor’s words in an advertisement urging DeSantis to veto a multi-billion-dollar plan the Legislature passed for a network of new toll roads throughout Florida.

“Governor DeSantis: Teddy stood with the Sierra Club – will you? Veto the toll roads bill” says the ad, which features a historical photo of Roosevelt with Sierra Club founder John Muir.

No state study recommended the toll road plan – the largest highway project proposed in Florida since the 1950s. But it popped up this legislative session as a top priority for Republican Florida Senate President Bill Galvano. Only broad corridors, and not specifics, were available for legislators or the public to review. Republicans rejected attempts by Democrats to give locals veto power over where the road corridors would go and resisted attempts to give the broad plan more scrutiny by elected officials.

At least 90 Florida conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses are urging DeSantis to veto the measure. As the Phoenix earlier reported, one main toll road route, through North Central Florida, would benefit Florida’s richest man,  Thomas Peterffy. Peterffy is a Republican donor who gave hundreds of thousands to Gov. Ron DeSantis. He has a mansion on Palm Beach’s Billionaire’s Row and is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Peterffy owns tens of thousands of acres of already master-planned land in North-Central Florida where one leg of the toll road network is likely to go. Critics have dubbed the toll road plan “Billionaire Boulevard.”

DeSantis can either sign the legislation, let it become law without his signature, or veto it.

Other previous Phoenix coverage of the toll road project includes

Vague, 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; and Who needs trees? We want toll roads!

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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.