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Input called for on leasing Alligator Alley; Senator sets up public meeting

By Staff | Sep 11, 2008

State Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, is calling for public input concerning the possible privatization of Alligator Alley.

According to Saunders, the Florida Department of Transportation, at the direction of Gov. Charlie Crist, is contemplating a 50-year lease to a foreign vendor to maintain Alligator Alley and collect tolls.

Saunders is concerned the public will not have the opportunity to have their voices heard. He claims that previous public meetings conducted by FDOT concerning the project have not allowed public comment.

“These public hearings are not public hearings,” Saunders said. “The public has not been allowed to speak.”

The senator has scheduled his own public hearing Tuesday at the Hilton in Naples to discuss the road’s future.

He said he plans on inviting politicians from Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties and members of FDOT to meet with the public and hear their comments.

Following the meeting, FDOT officials will hold a meeting of their own to discuss the road. Saunders said FDOT will have the opportunity to listen to local residents and leaders before they adjourn to their own meeting.

One of the concerns is that a new vendor will raise tolls on Alligator Alley, setting a statewide precedent for foreign investors or outside interests to manage all of Florida’s toll roads.

Saunders said he is not opposed to FDOT raising the tolls, only the foreign investors who would profit.

“This is the time and place to take a stand,” Saunders said. “We have the opportunity now to have a say.”

A spokesperson from Saunders’ office said invitations to local politicians are going out today.

The public hearing is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. The Hilton is located at 5111 Tamiami Trail N. in Naples.

For more information, contact Saunders’ office at 417-6220.