Category Archives: Transportation

Why would Florida toll roads be different? Broke from the start: Texas SH 130 toll road

Why would we expect the Florida M-CORES toll roads would be any different, since they were foisted on the public by a questionable process, just like the Texas SH 130 toll road?

“The original estimates for this job were terribly overstated,” SH 130 Concession Company’s current CEO, Andy Bailey, told KXAN. “The original traffic projections were wildly overstated. The company did a couple of additional traffic projections and still missed.”…

The bankruptcy filing accused SH 130’s management of knowingly paying CTHC for work the company “had not properly completed” and work that “would cause systematic problems” to the highway in the future….

Known cracking and heaving problems not fixed

One of the main elements of the September 2018 bankruptcy filing is accusations that “Ferrovial and Zachry-controlled managers caused the SH 130 Concession Company to pay Central Texas Highway Constructors, known as CTHC, more than $329 million in payments the lawsuit characterizes as ‘fraudulent.’”…

[Cracked dirt and SH 130 construction]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Cracked dirt and SH 130 construction, 2006-08-11.

Key words in this story: “fraudulent,” “improperly completed,” “insolvent,” “bankruptcy,” and more.

How can the Suncoast Connector possibly have enough traffic to pay for itself, when, as Tall Timbers points out, “US Highway 19, a four-lane divided roadway, runs throughout the length of the eight-county Suncoast Connector planning area and is substantially underutilized. In fact, for much of its route through the toll road planning area, US 19 functions at between 16 and 20 percent of its maximum service volume.”

SH 130 was touted as traffic relief around Austin for I-35. Actually, it carries mostly truck traffic, and it’s not clear it will ever pay for itself.

What are Suncoast Connector and the other M-CORES toll roads really good for? Nothing but pork for their proponents, as near as I can tell.

No build!

Jody Barr, KXAN, 14 November 2018, Former SH 130 executives accused of hiding road defects from lenders, Continue reading

Walkers Crossing closed, Full Corn Moon Paddle, Banks Lake 2020-09-02

You may want to allow more time if you’re driving to Banks Lake this evening from Hahira (I-75 exit 29) or Valdosta for the Full Corn Moon Paddle, since Walker’s Crossing is closed, and that’s on the usual route. Walker’s Crossing is where east-west GA 122 meets north-south GA 125 (Bemiss Road).

[Walkers Crossing, GA 122 @ GA 125 (Bemiss Road) w. of Banks Lake]
Walkers Crossing, GA 122 @ GA 125 (Bemiss Road) w. of Banks Lake
In the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

Remember, try to be at Banks Lake by 7:15 PM to have time to sign in and get ready to launch. Follow the link for more outing details:
http://wwals.net/?p=53303.

It looks like you can go around from Barretts on New Bethel Road. Or just follow the Detour signs. Georgia DOT – Southwest, facebook, August 31 at 9:52 PM

Lowndes Co (close to Lanier Co): the railroad crossing on SR 122 just east of SR 125 is scheduled to close tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 1, and is expected to reopen Thursday, Sept. 3. This is required for repairs to the crossing. Detour routes will be US 129, SR 122 Connector and SR 125. Watch for detour signs.

Thanks to Mike Kondrot for the heads-up.

If you’re coming up I-75 from Florida, you’ll probably also notice this: Continue reading

Pitcher plants, GA 31, Grand Bay –Gretchen Quarterman on WCTV 2020-08-21

Hooded Pitcher Plants are the answer to Lanier County Sheriff Nick Norton’s question to the Georgia Department of Transportation as to why the ditches were not being mowed on GA 31 between Valdosta and Lakeland.

Amber Spradley, WCTV, at GA 31 and Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA), August 22, 2020, GDOT discovers rare plants ahead of road project,

[Clockwise: Amber Spradley, Gretchen Quarterman, potted pitcher plants, Hooded Pitcher Plants]
Clockwise: Amber Spradley, Gretchen Quarterman, potted pitcher plants, Hooded Pitcher Plants

Gretchen Quarterman, a 10-year “Master Gardener” and the executive director of WWALS Watershed Coalition, tells WCTV Hooded Pitchers live in nutrient-poor bogs, or wetlands. They trap and consume insects to obtain nutrients for survival.

Continue reading

Langdale Park closed, Withlacoochee River, Valdosta, GA 2020-07-14

With the dogs in the truck, I thought I would let them wet their feet in the Withlacoochee River at Langdale Park Boat Ramp.

[Gate]
Gate

Nope, gate closed.

So I called Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA). They said they’re fixing up the entrance road at Langdale Park, with the assistance of Lowndes County. I agreed that it had needed it; plenty of potholes. They said they expected to reopen some time in August, although everything was delayed due to pandemic. Ain’t that the truth. Continue reading

Ask Gov. DeSantis to veto M-CORES from the budget 2020-06-05

Please write today, something like this:


To: Governor Ron DeSantis <governorron.desantis@eog.myflorida.com>
Subject: Please redirect M-CORES toll roads funds to critical state needs

Please wield your veto pen to remove from the budget the $90 million dedicated to M-CORES.

Signed, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper


Back in April, WWALS sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis asking him to repurpose toll road funds and we asked you to do that, too.

On June 5, 2020, eighty organizations including WWALS wrote to Gov. DeSantis requesting the same, as you can see below.

Now the Florida state budget is on his desk, so he has an opportunity to do this. Please help. Contact the Governor today.

No Roads to Ruin Letter June 5, 2020

Continue reading

Toll Roads webinars are illegal: ask Florida Governor to repurpose funds to pandemic relief 2020-05-28

There’s no point in attending the toll roads webinars: instead ask Florida governor DeSantis to use the toll road funds for pandemic relief.

FDOT didn’t listen to First Amendment Foundation: “All portions of the Sunshine Law continue to apply even during this horrible pandemic. No part of the Law has been suspended or modified as applied to state agencies. As a result, I respectfully request that FDOT exercise patience, cancel any and all M-CORES Task Force meetings, and reschedule the meetings only when members of the Task Force and Florida citizens can fully participate in-person and by all feasible means.

Instead, FDOT scheduled more bogus webinars this week, starting tomorrow.

[FAF to FDOT (1 of 3)]
FAF to FDOT (1 of 3)

Better: please ask Florida governor DeSantis to repurpose toll road funds to pandemic relief.

Thanks to the No Roads to Ruin (NRTR) steering committee, here is the FAF letter to FDOT (PDF).

News coverage: Continue reading

Video: Sign up to recommend No Build; M-CORES toll road webinars

Floridians moved to Lowndes County, Georgia, after Hurricane Irma, but not because of lack of toll roads. If they had had solar panels and batteries so they wouldn’t be without power for weeks, they might have stayed in Florida, said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can recommend No Build this coming week, as M-CORES holds webinars with public comment. See below for how.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman]
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says No Build.

The Suncoast Connector Task Force webinar is 9:30 AM to 12 noon, Thursday, April 30, 2020. That’s the toll road that would run from Crystal River across the Suwannee River, through farms, forests, and wetlands, building bypasses around towns and cities, to Thomasville, Georgia.

To listen, you have to Continue reading

Videos: Don’t split farms, and don’t harm nature, schools, or aquifer, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Toll roads splitting farms would be generational damage, said farmer Ernest Culver of Jackson County, and the Task Force doesn’t take into account churches or schools, not to mention nature, rivers, or the Floridan Aquifer, said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Columbia County, at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

[Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson]
Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

The idea of repurposing toll roads funds for virus pandemic relief continues to get more at least indirect support. Craig Pitman, Florida Phoenix, 9 April 2020, Does Florida still need that trio of billion-dollar toll roads?,

Florida’s controversial new toll roads hit a potential roadblock this week.

Two of them are supposed to Continue reading

Videos: Toll roads as prosperity drain and climate change, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

More toll roads could drain prosperity, and more driving means more climate change, said two speakers at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can send your opinion to FDOT.Listens@dot.state.fl.us. And Sierra Club has provided a convenient way for Floridians to tell FDOT No Build:
https://addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/no-roads-to-ruin/take-action

See also the No Roads to Ruin Coalition facebook page.

A couple of speakers in Madison were for the toll roads, both claiming economic benefits. Madison County later terminated the consulting contract for one of them as a cost-cutting measure due to virus pandemic.

If one county can do that, the state of Florida can do that, as we previously suggested. See also Philip Beasley, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 12, 2020, Put federal dollars in hands of jobless.

Here are the WWALS videos of speakers in Madison:

Videos: No Build: Fire and Traffic at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Update 2020-04-18: Videos: Toll roads as prosperity drain and climate change, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11.

Prescribed fire is important, said Eugene Kelly, Policy and Legislative Chair, Florida Native Plants Society. Four-lane I-10 instead, to preserve businesses along that road, said Jimmy Ray of Madison County. Here are WWALS videos of these two more speakers against the toll roads boondoggle in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

Meanwhile, apparently great minds think alike, because the idea WWALS member Janet Mikulski Messcher had a few weeks ago of asking the Florida governor to repurpose toll road moneys for pandemic relief was also published independently that same day by in the Sun-Sentinel by Susan L. Trevarthen of 1000 Friends of Florida.