"This private company would go ahead and construct, operate and maintain at no taxpayer's cost," was the message 10 News received last year from FDOT Spokesperson Kris Carson when FDOT received an unsolicited proposal to build an elevated toll along State Road 54, connecting US-301 and US-19.
However, the proposal was rejected recently after a request for public funds was issued from the company responsible for the proposal – a consortium called "FL Express 54" which included a company called International Infrastructure Partners, LLC.
"It was definitely frustrating for our secretary of transportation. We didn't want to have to use any state, transportation or tax dollars," Carson said.
The actual amount requested is officially undisclosed although it is rumored to be roughly $400 million. Additionally, Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad could not ignore public dissent. The loudest opposition came from Pasco Fiasco, a group organized specifically to fight the toll proposal. Their online petition received over 1,600 signatures.
Rich Connors serves as the organization's Executive Director. He says his group supports public opinion that Pasco County doesn't need another toll road.
"We agree with that 100 percent, because we think that it's a tax hidden as a toll."
Pasco Fiasco postponed a rally scheduled for May 19 and will reschedule if another proposal surfaces with which they disagree. FDOT will go ahead with some widening projects scheduled for State Road 54.
Carson says FDOT has no future plans to work with the company who sent in the proposal at this time.