Large landowners like toll road project revived by Gov. Rick Scott
To make way for a proposed network of sprawling toll roads, Florida transportation officials are considering reserving tracts of remote timberlands, cattle ranches and phosphate mines from some of the state's largest landowners.
According to a memo released this week by the Florida Department of Transportation, five companies who own a combined 5 percent of the land in the state support the concept of Future Corridors, a series of massive toll roads that would crisscross the state's rural areas to spur economic growth.
"While the need for future roads may be far off in the future," the memo states, "reserving land now provides certainty for planning and may be more cost efficient than future condemnation or acquisition."
Land acquisition can be a deal killer for any road project, so the memo, while brief and vague, could boost the prospects of a project that until recently had appeared dead.
Hatched by former Gov. Jeb Bush, Future Corridors was shelved by former Gov. Charlie Crist, who instead emphasized improving existing infrastructure and urban areas. Gov. Rick Scott, who like Bush killed a high-speed rail plan linking urban centers upon taking office, revived the Corridors project and views it as an economic engine for rural counties that will create jobs.
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