“We can’t keep building lanes” — Florida DOT Rep

As you might have surmised from my few posts — transportation is a MAJOR issue for me.

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The St. Petersburg Times has a good story today about the effort of the Florida Department of Transportation to get ahead of our explosive growth.

Forecasts predict the region’s population will nearly double in the next 40 years . To get ahead of the curve and the crowds, state transportation officials are trying to figure out now where people are going to be in 2050 and their busiest travel patterns.

The goal of an ambitious, first-of-its kind, regional plan set to be unveiled this fall: stop retrofitting roads and highways with new lanes after the traffic becomes untenable.

“We can’t keep building lanes,” said Robert M. Clifford, a planning and development manager with the Florida Department of Transportation’s Region 7. It includes the Tampa Bay area.

Well, the folks in Georgia seem to think that you can keep building lanes. The Georgia Department of Transprtation has proposed to widen I-75 to 23 lanes. Yes, that is TWENTY-THREE lanes. It will be 388 feet wide from Cobb County into Atlanta.

It’s wider than an aircraft carrier. Far wider than the carving on Stone Mountain. Wider than the White House stretched end to end, twice.

It’s the planned I-75, all 23 lanes, coming soon to Cobb County. As currently conceived it’s 388 feet across, wider than a football field is long.

The historic negotiations to expand I-75 and I-575 above the Perimeter partly with private money and tolls have made big news statewide. They may also have overshadowed news just as stunning: the project’s sheer size.

Can you imagine I-4 at 23 lanes?

Can you imagine I-275 from Fowler to the Howard Franklin at 23 lanes wide?

Can you imagine US 19 at 23 lanes wide?

Is that where we are heading here in Tampa Bay? Paving paradise to put up a parking lot?

Without some kind of mass transit system — we very well could be. At least the DOT is saying that roads, rail, and bus are all being included in their study. But the more important thing will be what our so-called “leaders” do with the information — even the DOT almost admits this:

Since the study includes eight counties, six MPOs, five major regional metropolitan centers and 35 incorporated areas, cooperation is essential, Clifford said. “Responses have been positive so far, but everyone wants to know how this will affect them and their plans,” he said.

Keep an eye out.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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