Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BikeWalkLee's Op Ed in News-Press: Transportation plan already obsolete

Published in News-Press 9/14/11
Written by
Margaret Banyan, Ph.D.

Gov. Rick Scott and state Transportation
Secretary Anath Prasad recently announced
their Florida transportation plan for "the
21st century." Their plan promises greater
choices and a more efficient transportation
system. It delivers on neither.

They propose to develop more access for
automobiles with high speed / high
capacity, tolled corridors - the only choice
being offered to Floridians is what we will
pay to use our roads. Their plan lacks
meaningful alternatives to encourage other
modes of travel and is out of touch with
Florida's reality. Florida is the most
dangerous state in the nation for walking
and biking and its cities dominate the top-
ten list where residents cannot access work
through public transportation - and they
want only to build bigger, faster roads.

This approach is directly counter to the
FDOT 2060 Florida Transportation Plan, a
broad and engaged effort that created an
accessible, integrated and sustainable
vision for transportation.

One of the goals of the 2060 Plan is that
"Florida should provide residents, visitors,
and businesses with more choices among
transportation modes." The 2060 Plan promotes
increased capacity for urban
public transit systems, improved
connectivity of rail and increased access to
convenient, safe and affordable
transportation choices. The 2060 Plan
advocates strategic investments in an
integrated and connected multimodal
transportation network that will generate
jobs, economic competitiveness and
greater livability.

Ultimately, Gov. Scott's plan is a big-
government, top-down approach that
would take choice and control away from
local communities. Promoted as an engine
of economic revival, it is anything but.
Scott's plan will encourage sprawl and
serve special interests, at taxpayer
expense. Ultimately, it is the same failed
approach that has caused Florida's housing
and economic downturn.

Lee County has made significant strides in
promoting a more livable future consistent
with the 2060 Plan through policies that
integrate sustainability, efficient land use
and accessible transportation options. Lee
County's focus on multimodal transportation and complete
streets recognizes that it is a better use of our
tax dollars to invest in existing
infrastructure. It also recognizes that
funding transit, walking and biking facilities
offers cheaper and more efficient solutions to
congestion than simply building more and
more roads.

As part of the 2035 Transportation Plan,
elected officials of the Lee County
Metropolitan Planning Organization
adopted Resolution 2010-12 that would
"maximize the use of existing
transportation facilities and explore
opportunities for improved connectivity
before adding new facilities." The MPO also
moved the multimodal transportation
conversation forward by approving funding
for a study of the long-term feasibility of
commuter and freight rail options in the
Seminole Gulf Railway Corridor - one of the
ways to meet the area's growing
transportation needs. The success of these
local or regional plans requires cooperation
from the governor and FDOT - whose own
plan runs counter to our local smarter
growth initiatives.

Gov. Scott has simply resurrected an old
plan and dressed it up with toll roads - an
outdated plan based on poor assumptions
and failed models that ignore the
consensus built in the 2060 Florida
Transportation Plan process. Floridians
want a comprehensive and integrated
transportation system that will really move
us into the 21st century, not 20th-century

We want and expect choices in where we
live and how we get to where we need to
go. We want the enhanced quality of life
that comes from living and working in safe,
walkable communities. We need state and
federal policies that support visionary
transportation and land use plans
developed at the local level. Finally, we
expect real leadership from the governor
and staff to implement the 2060
Transportation Plan - a 21st century vision
to enhance long-term sustainability,
livability and economic growth through
smarter transportation.

Margaret Banyan, Ph.D., serves on the steering committee for BikeWalkLee, a Community Coalition to Complete the Streets in Lee County; is the chairwoman of the Lee County Community Sustainability Advisory Committee; and is an assistant professor at FGCU. See more online at

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