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TAXWATCH REPORT: The Suncoast Connector: What We Still Need to Know

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released its latest report, The Suncoast Connector: What We Still Need to Know examining the Suncoast Connector, one of three toll roads commissioned through the Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program which was established through legislation passed and signed into law in 2019 (SB 7068). The report seeks to identify the potential costs and long-term financial challenges of constructing the Suncoast Connector portion of the M-CORES program.

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “As Florida’s trusted government watchdog, Florida TaxWatch fights tirelessly on behalf of our state’s taxpayers to ensure every hard-earned tax dollar is spent wisely and provides a good return on investment for families across the Sunshine State. Florida TaxWatch has historically been and continues to be a strong advocate for public investments in Florida transportation infrastructure, which have both short and long-term economic stimulus effects by creating jobs and capital investment. However, there are some serious questions about whether this proposed roadway can be financially viable and therefore a wise investment as currently constituted.

“Today, Florida TaxWatch urges further analysis of the costs, benefits, and practicality of the Suncoast Connector, especially now that our state is facing unprecedented revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19. It is our sincere hope that our analysis of the need for, cost of, and revenue potential from the Suncoast Connector helps ensure this program proceeds thoughtfully to strengthen the self-supported and self-funded Florida Turnpike System and serve Floridians well throughout the state as a positive investment of taxpayer dollars.”

KEY FACTS AND FINDINGS

  • Although no official cost estimates have been developed for the road since route for the Suncoast Connect (as well as the other roads) have yet to be established, Florida TaxWatch’s analysis finds that construction of the Suncoast Connector could range in cost from a low of $4 billion to a high of $10.5 billion – or between $25 million and $70 million per mile.
  • Assuming the cost falls at the midpoint of Florida TaxWatch’s estimated range and only 70 percent of total costs are bonded, the Suncoast Connector would need to generate $2.37 million in toll revenue per mile to satisfy projected bond costs, which is 10 percent more than the average revenue per mile of the entire Florida Turnpike System. At the highpoint estimate, it would require 60 percent more in revenue per mile than the Turnpike average; the only segment close in size to the Suncoast Connector—the 155-mile Ticket System going from Palm Beach County to Osceola County—brings in $1.19 million per mile, half as much as the Suncoast Connector would need at the mid-point estimate.
  • It is questionable that ridership on the Suncoast Connector would be sufficient to pay off the bonds in the statutorily required time frame.

You can read the full report HERE.

About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute for more than forty years and the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses. Florida TaxWatch is supported by its membership via voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit www.floridataxwatch.org.

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