The people, who rely solely on wells and septic tanks for their water, have had to contend with water contaminated by leaking petroleum from underground storage tanks from a Conoco gas station and junkyards rising high with rusting cars.
Transportation isn't a choice between the traffic on I-4 and a commuter rail for the more well-heeled. Transportation is a lifeline that's too far.
Bithlo has no public bus service. The closest stop is eight miles away. Reaching a job or a doctor's appointment is nearly impossible for many; only half the residents have vehicles. One outlet is the bridge over the Econlockhatchee River, but there's no path, just a dangerous 24-inch shoulder on each side.
Tim McKinney, head of United Global Outreach, a nonprofit working to improve the community, said many residents have learned to walk atop the concrete sides of the bridge, figuring a jump down to the river is better than being struck by a car.
As Mica tours the community with McKinney, he questions why the planned expansion of the main road stops short of the bridge.
"If you don't have a way to get around, you don't have a job," Mica says. He promises to talk to John Lewis, the chief executive officer of the Lynx transportation system, about the bus service.
Federal dollars could go a long way in the hard-hit community, likely to be part of the new district.
Adams also spent time with members of the Bithlo community, listening to their questions at a lengthy nighttime meeting. She described them as a proud people who understand there are no government handouts.
"During the discussions, there were those who said: 'You know, nothing's free. Somebody's paying for it somewhere. So we'd like to know,'" she said.
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