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Jefferson Residents Express Their Opposition To Northern Expansion Of Suncoast Toll Road

Jefferson County residents are opposed to a planned toll road that would run through the county and into Georgia. The road is part of three Florida lawmakers approved earlier this year. 

The Suncoast Parkway extension and two additional toll roads were pitched as a way to revitalize rural communities, but Jefferson County residents say that's something they've heard before--in the 1970's, when I-10 was built through Jefferson, and diverted traffic away from Highways 90 and 27.

The only economic development that happened were a few gas stations and fast-food restaurants at the expense of local businesses. a North-South road doing the same thing, having the same effect...would hurt our downtown economy," says Monticello business owner Michele Areceneaux. 

She's one of hundreds of Jefferson residents who’ve attended recent Jefferson County commission hearings urging the group to oppose the toll road project. The commission recently rejected a resolution that would have called on the legislature to remove Jefferson as the terminating point for the road and allow the Florida Department of Transportation to consider other options. 

The toll road expansions are the brain-child of outgoing Senate President Bill Galvano who pitched them as a form of economic development for rural counties. However, residents of impacted counties and environmentalists have been critical of the process and worry about the impact construction will have on sensitive land.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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