Sen Saunders calls for public input into proposed Alligator Alley lease
Florida Sen. Burt Saunders 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 members of the public will not have the opportunity to have their voices heard. Previous public meetings conducted by FDOT concerning the project have not allowed public comment, he said.
“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, Sept. 16, at the Hilton in Naples to discuss the Alley’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.
Immediately following the 2 p.m. meeting, FDOT officials will hold a meeting of their own to discuss the Alley. Saunders said FDOT will have the opportunity to listen to local residents and leaders before they adjourn to their own hearing.
One of the concerns is that a new vendor will raise tolls on the Alley, setting a statewide precedent for foreign investors or outside interests to manage all of Florida’s toll roads.
Saunders said he’s not opposed to the 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 were to go out on Thursday.
The public hearing is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Sept. 16. The Hilton in Naples is located at 5111 Tamiami Trail, North.
For more information, contact Saunders’ office, 239-417-6220.