The Tribune seems to be troubled that too much development will lead to too much traffic these days.
Plans for the project on Bloomingdale Avenue near Lithia-Pinecrest Road were approved by the county years ago but lay dormant as developers and retailers rode out the recession.Would you rather have prosperity or empty streets?
Now, it turns out, there are even more surprises in store: The same economic recovery that is putting people back to work and energizing the housing market will add a lot more traffic to roads that can't handle it.
Back to the Tribune this morning:
The impact of renewed growth, the Tribune's analysis shows, is likely to be greatest in a 45-square-mile area of Brandon where many roads already are graded "F," meaning travel lanes can come to a complete stop during peak hours.Some analysis is missing here, which of course, is always missing from the Tribune. For your consideration:
It's an area where a dozen parcels are approved for the kind of development that would allow a big-box store, and it takes in the controversial Bloomingdale store - likely a Walmart, judging from planning documents - as well as a Bass Pro Shops the county is helping develop as a jobs generator by kicking in money for road improvements.
- The big box stores are increasingly at their limit. Most national retailers are highly built out. Several are executing plans to get smaller, not larger. Others are being competitively replaced in the market by internet retailers such as Amazon (which Hillsborough County is also seeking to attract) Some are no longer ... been to Circuit City or Borders lately, anyone? It seems we are not at a big risk to see all these dozen parcels become big box developments any time soon.
- As a possible counter to the traffic woes mentioned in the article, there is an argument that locating retailers closer to their customers can reduce traffic. Go where the people are. Rather than drive 10 miles to a retailer, even a Walmart, driving 2 miles to a closer "box" can help alleviate congestion. After all, this is the basis of these centrally planned communities and economic development areas, only without the people nearby. It can happen with a new Walmart too,
|New Walmart Supercenter construction on Bearss and Nebraska|
[I]f a developer doesn't have to pay to fix overcrowded roads, that leaves the county. But the county doesn't have the money.We've written before about the wasting of CIT tax and transportation. The money is gone. Our Hillsborough County Commissioners spent it all, then gambled on the transit sales tax increase in 2010 and did not invest further in roads, helping lead us into this current poor situation. We have an estimated $2 billion backlog in maintenance and safety improvements on our roads, and no plans to improve.
The recession, with its housing crisis and double-digit unemployment, sapped county sales and property taxes. Before it hit, commissioners borrowed heavily against the Community Investment Tax - a half-cent sales tax used to build parks, schools and roads. They essentially tied up all the tax's money-generating capacity, leaving nothing for future road projects.
Consequently, the county last year had to shelve $129 million worth of priority capital projects, many of them roads.
"Essentially, what needs to happen is the county needs to come up with new revenue sources other than new development to fund transportation improvements," Corbett said.
Many agencies are studying the problem, trying to reach a consensus that will win support from voters. In March, Sharpe won commission approval to create a transportation policy group that includes mayors of the county's three cities, commissioners and transportation agency heads. So far, the group has made no decisions.They've not exercised much leadership lately, other than commissioning yet another study group, using more taxpayer funds.
One idea taking hold is focusing growth more compactly along established mass-transit corridors, whether rapid-transit bus or light rail lines. Mass transit moves people more efficiently, and a dedicated transit line with its concentration of potential customers would create reliable opportunities for developers, said Beth Alden, assistant director of the MPO.Really? I thought we were talking about bad traffic in Brandon. Exactly how will a fixed rail solution help Brandon in the next quarter century? According to the Hillsborough MPO 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan, (hint, scroll to the bottom) Brandon might get rail by 2035.
"Someone making a real estate decision can't have confidence that five years from now that transit line is still going to be there," Alden said. "But with a rail corridor or dedicated bus lines with nice transit stations, you'll see that confidence there if there is a commitment to a specific transit."
So, its not about mobility or improved transportation options, it is all about development. Which from the opening of this article, more development causes traffic problems.
At least they got some
The MPO is also looking for some quicker, less-expensive ways to relieve traffic congestion. One, called an Advanced Traffic Management System, uses computers to control traffic signals so motorists need not hit a red at every traffic light.Emphasis mine. Can we do the cheaper, easy, common sense solutions before we dive into committing billions on rail solutions? Why is there even a debate about this? Beware of the developers, for if we really start solving for mobility, they may not be pleased.
Another idea is reversing lanes during peak commuting hours to provide an extra lane for the heaviest flow of traffic. The MPO and the Florida Department of Transportation are also considering pay express toll lanes on interstate highways.
Meanwhile, motorists in Bloomingdale, like Dee Bristol, are "constantly looking for ways around the traffic," wondering when and if those in charge will ever get it right.Well, yeah. But wait for government led central planning for transportation solutions that are not about transportation, but development. Hopefully we won't have to find out how well that does not work.
Said Bristol, "I think it's just poor planning overall."
UPDATE: Fixed a broken link.