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New construction west of I-75 sparks economic concern in Columbia County

F-DOT said they don’t have the answers to what the economic impact of the project will look like
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 8:22 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Many in Columbia County are concerned about a proposed highway that they feel make take business away from them. Columbia County commissioners and Lake City council members met today to discuss the construction of the new roadway west of 1-75.

It’s called the Sun Coast Corridor and its part of F-DOT and Governor DeSantis' M-CORES Program. Projects within that program are intended to revitalize rural communities and encourage job creation, but according to city council members and local business owners, like Nick Patel, this particular project seems as if it could have the opposite effect.

“We have been pretty much an exit for the last 40 years and we are considered to be the gateway to Florida ... a significant amount of traffic which comes from I-75 stops here and in our hotels ... and I’ve invested $60-$70 million in hotels in this community, so I’m deeply concerned about it.”

F-DOT’s representative said they don’t have the answers to the economic impact nor do they have answers to where the funding for the project will come from. That research process will be discussed in the next meeting.

There is the possibility of a “No Build” option, which F-DOT is using as a baseline comparison for factors like the economic and environmental impact. These were the main concerns of community members during public discussion.

“F-DOT has not demonstrated the need or economic viability of this project. It is a waste of taxpayers' dollars to invest millions of dollars when there are other immediate priorities affecting our state,” Our Santa Fe River Inc. representative, Kristin Rubin, said.

There will be two more meetings later this month and a final report will be submitted to Governor Ron DeSantis and the legislature on November 15.

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