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Florida politicians were so — so — so close to committing more than 26 billion dollars, yes $26,000,000,000, for three new highways. It had a catchy name too: M-CORES which stood for Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance. The ambitious road project was described as providing regional connectivity while enhancing the quality of life, and public safety, and protecting the environment. Wow, those were lofty and expensive ambitions for asphalt. Actually, speaking of quality of life, public safety, and protection of the environment — would there have been a better infrastructure investment for our politicians to get excited about?

Asphalt? What about investing in our water? Here in Florida, more so than any other state, “economic significance” is built around abundant and clean water. Our economy, culture, recreation, property values, and tourism have all been built from from the beautiful waters lapping at our feet. (Water State article) Don’t get us wrong — we need transportation improvements — but why encourage more development before we fix our existing? Let’s commit billions of tax payer dollars to what will give a true return on that investment — clean water.Florida has been making headlines: red tides, sewer overflows, beach closures, blue-green algae blooms, fish kills, declining springs, etc. Ask Fort Lauderdale residents if more asphalt will prevent sewer spills in the Venice-like canals of million dollar neighborhoods. Ask Miami residents if more asphalt will help restore Biscayne Bay or keep their old sewer lines & septic systems from flooding during King Tides. Check in with Tampa and St. Pete residents to see if more asphalt will protect their bay. Take a poll from Indian River Lagoon condo owners if more asphalt will build equity in their investments. Ask scientists and water managers if more asphalt will prevent nutrients from impacting our springs.

Will new highways keep Miami’s leaking sewer lines, septic systems, and pollutants from getting into the bay during King Tides?

Florida is at a crossroad (pun intended). Our growth rate is still on record pace with 1,000 new residents everyday, and until COVID hit, we were swimming in record-numbers of tourists. The reason everyone visits and moves here is because of our diverse and beautiful blue waters – but those very waters are being impacted by our antiquated infrastructure. Our decades-old stormwater and sewage systems haven’t been able to handle the demands on the systems for years, and exacerbating the problem are the continued growth and climate change. Will more asphalt prepare us for more toilets flushing, tropical systems, larger rain events, and rising seas?

So here we are – when was the last time Tallahassee politicians were so eager and committed to invest 26 billion tax payer dollars into infrastructure? They somehow saw three new highways in remote, environmentally sensitive lands, as an improvement in our Florida quality of life, public safety, and in our environment.

However, rightfully so, Floridians in record numbers voiced their displeasure with the plan. Environmental nonprofits rose up and expressed disbelief in the sprawl-enducing plan. Local communities demanded their way of life not be torn up with a new highway blazing through farmlands and forests. Everyone let Tallahassee know that clean water was more important than more asphalt. We reminded them that our economy, unlike other states, is built from the water up. Economic significance is lapping at our feet. We told them to commit 26,000,000,000 into fixing our crumbling stormwater and wastewater infrastructure before we build more roads. We knew the return on the water investment would pay immediate dividends to all Floridians – for generations!Freediving Florida SpringsAmazingly M-CORES is nearly a distant memory now – our state representatives just nixed the plan. But why? Many thought they finally realized the environmental harm with such asphalt-driven ambitions… But don’t get excited. M-CORES failed simply due to economics – the state could no longer afford it. COVID caused our state coffers to shrivel up and with that so did the support for the expensive highway bill.

But don’t fool yourself – when the economy comes roaring back another “you-gotta-be-crazy” highway bill will be back up for a vote. Although it will have a new catchy name, it will tout the same benefits of improving regional connectivity while enhancing the quality of life, and public safety, and protecting the environment.

Don’t let your guard down. Let your state and local legislators know that you can get behind a 26 billion dollar water quality improvement but not for more asphalt:

Tell Florida politicians our economy, unlike other states, is built from the water up.

Play Hard Florida represents Florida’s outdoor adventure industry – we know better than anyone Florida has the most unique and beautiful waters on the planet! Support a local environmental nonprofit protecting the waters lapping at your feet – your life depends on them.

The views expressed on this blog do not represent that of the advertisers or adventure providers on this site.

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