Disclaimer: While this posting may have political themes to it, this post is NOT meant to be political. All I am doing is conveying my views on the matter. Therefore, I ask that you please be considerate about what you post. This blog is moderated, and all comments must be approved by the administrator before they’re posted. Thank you.
A few days ago, transit activist group Connect Tampa Bay posted some startling news. A recent presentation by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to Hillsborough County officials did not mention a lick about expanded transit options or improved walk-ability throughout Tampa Bay. Instead, the presentation mentioned things like “smart roads” and driverless vehicles. While such technologies will eventually become the forefront of our ever-changing world, many of the concepts presented will likely not come to fruition for at least 15 to 20 years, if even at that. So why even bother to mention all these technologies while excluding the things the Tampa Bay Area needs the most right now? Things like improved bus service, rail connections, and more pedestrian facilities?
Politics as usual continues to overrun the needs of the people and their communities.
Here’s my take on the matter; ever since the 2010 elections, politics in Florida have become even more heated, just like things have become up in Washington. In Florida’s case, there seem to be many people (including many politicians, I won’t name specific ones) who have a very anti-transit, pro-Tea Party sentiment against the Tampa Bay region, and will stop at nothing to make sure that the region continues to be nothing more than a retirement community that sits still in the 1950s. Yes, its these politicians that will allow the three larger municipalities; Miami, Orlando, and Jacksonville, skirt by on their transit plans with little to no objections.
One of the key things that FDOT has really been focusing on, especially after Rick Scott was elected governor in 2010, is the mass-expansion of toll facilities in the state. And the outpouring of support for more toll roads, including managed toll lanes along I-4, I-275, I-75, I-95, and even the Veterans Expressway, has been BEYOND overwhelming! Yet, nothing is being done to tell FDOT, “Hey! We need better transit! What’s more toll roads going to do for us?” FDOT’s recent presentation on DRONES makes this sentiment more apparent; that FDOT would rather spend millions of dollars on building things like “smart roads”, driverless cars, toll facilities, AND keep the rest of us DEPENDENT on automobiles, rather than to come up with innovative transit options that will create a win-win situation for both the state and local communities, and DECREASE our dependence on automobiles.
When you connect all of the pieces of the puzzle together, you find that politics as usual has dictated the course of Florida’s infrastructure. This most recent chain of events began with Governor Scott’s decision to ax high speed rail from the state in 2011, a move that I heavily expected to occur as soon as he assumed office. A few months later, sweeping plans came about to build tons of toll roads and managed lanes throughout the state. Although many of these highways still yet have to break ground, it’s a very scary situation that only exacerbates urban sprawl and creates a very anti-transit and pedestrian UNfriendly environment. Now we have this blatantly anti-transit plan being unveiled by FDOT that only leads me to believe that FDOT is being manipulated by Tea Party politicians in Tallahassee who don’t want to see the Tampa Bay Area succeed in the way that WE want it to.
A CALL TO ACTION!
Since details of the FDOT presentation came to light, Connect Tampa Bay has created a petition on their website. The petition will be sent to Tallahassee to let FDOT and state officials know that WE WILL NOT SETTLE FOR DRONES AND TOLL ROADS! WE NEED TRANSIT OPTIONS IN TAMPA BAY NOW! And that includes the Howard Frankland Bridge replacement!
There will also be a meeting here in Tampa, on Monday, November 4, 2013, at 6pm, at Strawberry Crest High School. This meeting will allow transit supporters a chance to convey their feelings and thoughts about the FDOT presentation to Hillsborough County officials, and to say to FDOT that we will not settle for their plan! Please take a moment to sign the petition from Connect Tampa Bay, and if you can, please also attend the upcoming November 4th meeting! Your voice will make a HUGE difference!
To sign the petition on Connect Tampa Bay’s website, click here.
To view the Facebook event page for the November 4th meeting, click here.