Paving Paradise to Put Up a Parking Lot

Okay, so I don’t really like the Big Yellow Taxi song – the Joni Mitchell, Amy Grant, Counting Crows, or whoever versions. But somehow that line makes some sense with Tampa Bay’s traffic planners.

First, consider the projects currently underway: Malfunction Junction, I-4 from 14th to 50th streets, and the Links project on State Road 60 from I-275 to and including part of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Not to mention that the start of the second part of the Links project (I-275 from the Howard Franklin Bridge to the Hillsborough River) has been pushed back a year because the lowest bid was too high.

Those are just the Tampa Interstate projects! The Expressway Authority with FDOT already has plans to build the I-4/Crosstown Connector. Now comes word (with thanks to Sticks of Fire blog for pointing this out today) that they want to build an eastern beltway from the I-75/I-275 interchange in Manatee county, around Brandon and New Tampa, into Pasco County to link with the Suncoast Parkway.

The I-4 Connector and the Beltway will be toll roads. As will other projects around the state as we continue to grow. Consider this from a recent Sarasota Herald-Tribune article:

As Florida searches for ways to improve and expand its increasingly burdened highway network, expect tollways to become more plentiful and popular. And, for these new expressways to become viable alternatives to older, overcrowded roads, good customer service will be essential.

“In any urbanized area in Florida, there’s a potential for toll roads,” [James Ely executive director of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise] said at an Argus Foundation luncheon. “I think we’re going to see more in our future.”

All of these plans are being made at the state level – by the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Turnpike Authority, and the Tampa/Hillsborough Expressway Authority (a state-created entity). That is because, as was recently pointed out in a Blurbex blog post, Hillsborough County leaders are busy solving the real problems facing us today: homosexuals and nudity.

Once we unclog the highways of perverts, commies and homos, you will be able to drive down Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa or State Road 60 in Brandon at 5 o’clock rush hour without so much as tapping your brakes once.

And you thought the Hillsborough County Commission wasn’t doing any thing productive.

I don’t know if this year’s election will bring any change. No discussion of any solution to our transportation problem. No discussion of intermodal transportation alternatives. Only years of construction as more asphalt is laid down.

What’s next, all the trees in a tree museum? Just don’t have any displays of gay or nude trees, or the County Commission may come after you.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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