St. Johns River Water Management District Approves Pioneer Trail Interchange Permit Over Audubon Objections

Audubon will continue to work with stakeholders to improve this project.

On March 12, staff at the St. Johns River Water Management District presented their final order approving the permit for a new interchange at I-95 and Pioneer Trail in Volusia County. The permit was the center of a lawsuit contesting the project’s impact on many acres of wetlands and an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW) that leads to Spruce Creek.

Recently, a judge recommended the District deny the permit due to impacts on the OFW. Many advocates, including Audubon Florida’s Northeast Policy Associate Chris Farrell, asked the Governing Board to have staff send the project back to the Florida Department of Transportation to reduce the impacts of the project and add benefits in the Spruce Creek basin (proposed mitigation efforts would take place many miles away from the site).

Unfortunately, the Governing Board did not take any action on the permit and let it move forward. However, Chair Bradley, sensitive to the concerns of those who use and value the Spruce Creek area, asked the parties of the lawsuit to meet privately during the board meeting to see if they could reach some compromise. A brief update on the talks suggest DOT may be willing to alter their design somewhat to remove impacts to the OFW; we hope DOT carries through with this improvement to the project.

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