Florida needs new highways for a growing population
As a retired fire chief, I’ve seen my fair share of interstate accidents. These accidents range in severity from fender benders to, unfortunately, more severe accidents, but as Florida’s population grows, so too will the number of accidents we see on our interstates.
Statistics from last summer show 906 people are moving to Florida every day and over 330,000 people are moving to Florida every year. In 2030, Florida is expected to be home to 26 million people — that’s nearly a 5-million-person increase from today.
As Florida welcomes these new residents to the state, our roads, including our interstates, will become more crowded, whether from our residents or our new level of commerce utilizing our roadways.
Many of you know and have experienced that our current interstate is already feeling this growth. If you’ve ever traveled on Interstate 4 or Interstate 75 near Tampa, you’ve most likely been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at some point. And, this is now with 5 million fewer residents than we’re expected to have in 2030.
This is exactly why I think it’s so important for the state to plan now for our future interstate needs by moving forward with the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program.
M-CORES will bring three new interstate corridors to the state that are strategically placed to take cars off U.S. Highway 27, I-75 and the Florida’s Turnpike. These roads are also projected to be completed by 2030, in time to take on all of Florida’s new residents and our increase in commerce.
Now, I’ve heard many people say that we don’t need these roads and that we need to preserve Florida. I get it, I grew up on a farm and I live in a rural area of Polk County; I understand the importance of protecting what is unique to Florida. However, I believe this is a project that we cannot wait on, and that we can accomplish both: preparing our infrastructure now for the future and protecting our one-of-a-kind environment.
If we wait until these residents are here to start working on our infrastructure, it will be too late, and we’ll be stuck trying to play catch up with Florida’s growth that we already know is coming.