M-CORES: An Overview

Saving Special Places • Building Better Communities

Impacting Rural Lands

The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance Program, or M-CORES, was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 17, 2019. M-CORES authorizes the design and construction of three new tolled road corridors through rural Florida:

Suncoast Connector extending from Jefferson County to Citrus County

Northern Turnpike Connector extending from the Suncoast Connector south to the Florida Turnpike northwest

Southwest-Central Florida Connector extending from Polk County to Collier County; a previous highway planned for the route was called the Heartland Parkway

During the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, 1000 Friends of Florida opposed the bill that authorized the M-CORES program, Senate Bill 7068, because we believe building new highways in the designated corridors will put at risk rural communities, vulnerable lands and waters, and wildlife – not just from the highways, but also from the sprawl they would generate. We also believe there are higher priorities for investing limited dollars to meet Florida’s most pressing transportation needs.

But once SB 7068 passed, 1000 Friends accepted appointments to each of the three task forces created by the bill to offer input on the design and planning of the highways from positions of influence, raise any concerns about the process, and try to minimize or eliminate the impacts from the proposed roads on some of Florida’s best remaining rural lands.

We continue to educate the public on how to provide input into M-CORES.   See the information below on additional resources provided by 1000 Friends of Florida, including Citizen Primers, Natural Resources Maps, media coverage, webinars and more.  We update this page regularly to provide you with the latest information so please check back.  Check out recent Op Eds by 1000 Friends of Florida Board Members:

Opinion–Vicki Tschinkel:  Florida’s three proposed toll roads cut through precious natural land (Tampa Bay Times, 1/12/20)

Opinion–Tim Jackson:  Miami-Dade commuters’ tolls will pay for North Florida roads they won’t use (Miami Herald, 12/12/19)

See full text of recent Op Eds

UPCOMING FDOT M-CORES EVENTS

SUNCOAST EVENTS

  • January 27 in Perry — Suncoast Connector Community Open House
  • January 28 in Chiefland — Suncoast Connector Community Open House
  • January 30 in Crystal River — Suncoast Connector Community Open House
  • February 11 in Madison — Suncoast Corridor Task Force Meeting #4
  • March 12 in Monticello— Suncoast Connector Community Open House
  • March 24 in Monticello — Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #5
  • April 14 in Lecanto — Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #6
  • TBD — Suncoast Connector Community Open House
  • June 9 in Fanning Springs — Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #7
  • June 11 in Trenton — Suncoast Connector Community Open House
  • June 16 in Perry — Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #8
  • TBD — Public comment period on draft report recommendation
  • September 1 in Madison — Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #9
  • TBD — Submit Task Force Reports to Governor and Legislature

Visit FDOT’s M-CORES Suncoast site for more information

NORTHERN TURNPIKE EVENTS

  • January 28 in Chiefland — Northern Turnpike Community Open House
  • January 30 in Crystal River — Northern Turnpike Community Open House
  • February 12 in Fanning Springs — Northern Turnpike Task Force Meeting #4
  • March 25 in Ocala — Northern Turnpike Task Force Meeting #5
  • March 26 in Chiefland — Northern Turnpike Community Open House
  • April 29 in Lecanto — Northern Turnpike Task Force Meeting #6
  • TBD — Northern Turnpike Community Open House
  • June 3 in Bushnell — Northern Turnpike Task Force Meeting #7
  • June 4 in Lecanto — Northern Turnpike Community Open House
  • July 9 in Ocala — Northern Turnpike Task Force Meeting #8
  • TBD — Public comment period on draft report recommendation
  • September 2 in Lecanto — Northern Turnpike Task Force Meeting #9
  • TBD — Submit Task Force Reports to Governor and Legislature

Visit FDOT’S Northern Turnpike Connector Page to confirm details

SOUTHWEST-CENTRAL EVENTS

  • January 30 in Arcadia — Southwest Central Community Open House
  • February 13 in Moore Haven — Southwest Central Community Task Force Meeting #4
  • TBD — Southwest Central Community Open House
  • March 4 in Sebring   — Southwest Central Task Force Meeting #5
  • March 26 in Sebring — Southwest Central Community Open House
  • April 1 in Arcadia — Southwest Central Task Force Meeting #6
  • May TBD — Southwest Central Community Open House
  • June 24 in Punta Gorda — Southwest Central Task Force Meeting #7
  • June 25 in North Fort Myers — Southwest-Central Community Open House
  • July 22 in Wauchula — Southwest-Central Task Force Meeting #8
  • August TBD — Public Comment period on draft report recommendation
  • September 23 in Lakeland — Southwest-Central Task Force Meeting #9
  • TBD — Submit Task Force Reports to Governor and Legislature

Visit FDOT’s M-CORES Southwest-Central Page for details on upcoming and past meetings.

Background

M-CORES will divert more than $100 million per year from the state General Revenue Fund for planning, design and initial construction of the three corridors, which are “tolled facilities and approved turnpike projects that are part of the turnpike system and are considered as Strategic Intermodal System facilities.” The bill also authorizes the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT or “the department”) to borrow billions of additional dollars from turnpike revenue bonds, public private partnerships and myriad other sources to complete construction.

The stated objective is to “advance the construction of regional corridors that are intended to accommodate multiple modes of transportation and multiple types of infrastructure.” Goals outlined in the legislation include to address hurricane evacuation, congestion mitigation, trade and logistics, broadband, water and sewer connectivity, energy distribution, autonomous and other vehicle technology, mobility as a service, availability of trained workforce, protection or enhancement of wildlife corridors or environmentally sensitive areas, and protection or enhancement of primary springs protection zones and farmland preservation areas designated within local comprehensive plans. 

To find out more see 2019’s SB 7068 authorizing M-CORES and visit FDOT’s M-CORES Website.

1000 Friends of Florida Natural Resources Maps

Link to all 1000 Friends of Florida Natural Resources Maps

Existing Conservation Lands, Proposed Conservation Lands, Wetlands

M-CORES: Planning Process

Ecological Greenways

M-CORES: Local Comprehensive

Aquifer Recharge

Citizen Primers

Webinars

Covering All the Bases: Effective Engagement in the M-CORES Process

SB 7068 was signed into law in 2019, authorizing the construction of three new tolled roadways through close to 350 miles of some of Florida’s best natural and agricultural lands.  In this webinar, presenters provide an overview of M-CORES and transportation planning in Florida, as well as shortcomings in the M-CORES process and strategies for effective engagement.

M-CORES (The Heartland and Suncoast Expressways): Policy and Planning Implications for Florida’s Future

SB 7068 was passed during the 2019 Legislative Session and signed into law.  It created M-CORES, or the “multi-use corridors of regional economic significance program” to be implemented by the Florida Department of Transportation. Conducted prior to the passage of the legislation, this webinar focuses on SB 7068’s implications for state transportation policy, regional planning, and land and habitat conservation.

Media Coverage

Timeline

July 1, 2019

The “M-CORES” Act takes effect

August 1, 2019

The Secretary of FDOT shall appoint the members of the three corridor task forces

October 1, 2020

Each task force shall submit its final report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives

December 31, 2022

To the maximum extent feasible, construction of the projects shall start no later than this date

December 31, 2023

Each affected local government with an interchange within its jurisdiction shall review the applicable task force report to determine whether its local comprehensive plan should be amended “to provide appropriate land uses and natural resources protections”

July 1, 2030

The corridors shall be open to traffic no later than this date