The East Central Florida Corridor Task Force was created through the signing of Executive Order 13-319 by Governor Rick Scott in late 2013. The reason for creating the taskforce was to establish recommendations for future transportation corridors connecting different activity and employment centers within Brevard, Orange, and Osceola Counties (Executive Order, 2013).
The taskforce recommends principles to guide future transportation and land use planning, which take into consideration “environmental stewardship, sustainable agriculture, economic development, and community development plans and investments” (Executive Order, 2013).
It has been built upon what My Region, a seven county network, started with the “How Shall We Grow?” study. This study showed how the vast majority of Central Florida wanted to change development patterns to grow in a more sustainable manner “consuming less land, preserving more precious environmental resources and natural countryside, creating more distinctive places to live…, and providing more choices for how people travel” (Central Florida Partnership, 2012).
This pattern of development is an optimal option because it allows the natural, rural, and agricultural lands outside of these centers to be protected and preserved. In order for these centers to be economically successful and globally competitive, the challenges of connecting them becomes of high importance. In order to connect these areas in the most effective, efficient, and environmentally sound manner, the task force is using the “Four C’s” approach. The Four C’s are Conservation, Countryside, Centers, and Corridors (Killingsworth & Lawton, 2014).
Although the study area for the East Central Florida Corridor Task Force only includes Brevard, Orange, and Osceola Counties outlined in Executive Order 13-319, it was part of a larger “super region” including 15 counties across the center of Florida. This larger study area looked at connecting Tampa Bay to the Atlantic Coast. This “super region” is considered the 10th largest in the United States. Through transportation connections and multi-modal options, this super region can be very economically competitive with other national regions (Florida’s Future Corridors, 2013).
The taskforce has created a draft work plan and schedule to utilize as it moves through the corridor planning process. This work plan and schedule has a number of task force meetings and community workshops planned which include: building consensus on major issues and opportunities to be addressed related to corridor planning, identifying action steps, exploring the “Four C” approach, reviewing existing transportation systems and potential future investments to fill in the transportation gaps, gathering public and stakeholder input, reviewing existing travel flows and future connectivity/mobility needs, reviewing preliminary corridor alternatives, presenting findings at community workshops, and creating a final report for the Governor to consider in future transportation funding decisions (East Central Florida Corridor Task Force, 2014a).
This is all part of a three staged process for corridor planning in Florida. The process “includes a concept study for a potential corridor study area; a more detailed evaluation study for a corridor or segment within the study area; and more specific decisions about particular alignment(s) within a corridor through the project development and environment process” (East Central Florida Corridor Task Force, 2014b, Para. 1).
The two main objectives of the July 8, 2014 Community Workshop included informing stakeholders and the public about the East Central Florida Corridor Task Force and to gather input from these groups. During the first part of the workshop, the East Central Florida Task Force staff explained what they had been charged with compiling and the process they are planning on following in order to achieve their goal. The workshop included a short presentation discussing how the task force was formed, what the final product will be, the study area, the future land uses and local planning initiatives of the region, the regional existing managed lands/environmental resources, regional working farmland, dispersed rural enclaves/settlements, current/planned population and employment centers in the study area, strategic intermodal systems, planned multimodal improvements, and unfunded/conceptual/proposed transportation systems within the study area (DeVries, 2014).
The second objective of the workshop was to gather input from this same group of stakeholders and public as to what is important to them as it relates to transportation across the region (Killingsworth & Lawton, 2014). Utilizing a simple “dot exercise” the Task Force was able to conclude the topics of major importance to those represented at the workshop. The topics with the most dots placed by workshop attendees were: “consideration for differing generations of residents and their preferred urban environments”, “east-west regional connectivity”, “connecting Poinciana to the rest of the region”, “looking at the regional economy and connecting the centers”, and “finally competing funds for transportation” (DeVries, 2014).
After further investigation, it is apparent that this process is a very important step to ensuring economic vitality and environmental sustainable growth patterns for the future of Central Florida. There are a number of task force meetings and public workshops still remaining. Successful sustainable corridor implementation will be heavily dependent upon the input gathered during the initial process and throughout the screening processes.
Visit http://www.ecfcorridortaskforce.org/calendar.htm for more information on upcoming meetings and how to get involved.
Central Florida Partnership. (2012). CENTRAL FLORIDA REGIONAL GROWTH VISION. Retrieved from myregion.org: http://www.myregion.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=HowShallWeGrow&category=RegionalVision
DeVries, J. (2014). East Central Florida Corridore Workshop Reflection Paper. Orlando: University of Central Florida.
East Central Florida Corridor Task Force. (2014b). About the Study Area. Retrieved from East Central Florida Corridor Task Force: http://www.ecfcorridortaskforce.org/about.htm
East Central Forida Corridor Task Force. (2014a). About the Task Force. Retrieved from East Central Forida Corridor Task Force: http://www.ecfcorridortaskforce.org/
Executive Order, 13-319 (Office of the Govenor November 01, 2013).
Florida’s Future Corridors. (2013, November 4). Tampa Bay to Central Florida Study Area. Retrieved from Florida’s Future Corridors: http://www.flfuturecorridors.com/central_about.htm
Killingsworth, B., & Lawton, S. (2014, July 08). East Central Florida Corridor Task Force Community Workshop Presentation. (J. DeVries, Interviewer)