The last thing that Florida needs right now is to waste hundreds of millions of dollars building 330 miles of unnecessary toll roads through rural parts of the state.

The plan was a bad idea when state lawmakers approved it last year over the objections of environmental groups, residents of some of the rural communities where the highways would be built and others. Since then, groups studying the projects have only found more reasons why they should be stopped before construction begins.

The latest reasons come from the three task forces created by the Legislature to study the projects, one for each planned road: an extension of the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to the Georgia line, a connector between the Florida Turnpike and the Suncoast Parkway, and a new highway from Polk County to Collier County.

Those task forces recently issued draft reports that indicated they were unable to determine if there is a need for the projects, as the News Service of Florida reported. The reports suggested that the state Department of Transportation consider a “no build” alternative and displayed a preference for existing roads to be expanded or improved before new ones are built.

Previous reports from Florida TaxWatch and a consulting firm that studied the projects found they would be fiscally unsustainable and create other problems. But the project’s main proponent, outgoing Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, keeps finding reasons to ignore these objections and justify the projects — even if those reasons have little to do with the roads themselves.

Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who will be leaving office in November, suggested to the News Service that halting the projects would hinder technological advances in rural communities. He said in a statement that an expansion of high-speed internet service connected to the road projects was needed in these communities, where a lack of such service has made learning and working remotely difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s nice to see a legislative leader finally waking up to the problems Floridians are facing due to the pandemic. Republicans in the Legislature rebuffed calls to return for a special session as coronavirus cases soared in the state and the state’s unemployment website was overwhelmed.

Florida should close gaps in broadband access, but the state doesn’t need to waste hundreds of millions on toll roads to address that problem. With the state facing budget cuts due to the pandemic, the Legislature should use the funding that would have been spent on roads and prevent cuts to programs vital to the health and well-being of residents.

With Galvano getting ready to leave the Legislature, Floridians need to make their voices heard to incoming legislative leaders. Reports, with submitted public comments, are required to be sent to the governor and Legislature by Nov. 15. It will be interesting to see what the public has to say ... again.

The planned toll roads would benefit wealthy land owners in the path of the projects at the expense of the rest of the state. The state’s natural environment would suffer, especially in the part of North Florida’s springs heartland that the Suncoast extension would bisect.

Lawmakers need to take the advice of those who have studied the toll roads, putting the brakes on building them and using the money for the state’s actual needs.

An editorial from The Gainesville Sun.