- Published on Sunday, 19 February 2012 15:05
- Written by John Martin
- Hits: 8411
When one drives in Alachua County it is painfully obvious that our roads are crumbling. According to the county’s figures, there is a $380 million backlog. Given that this information is two years old and the deleterious multiplying effect that happens as roads degrade, the backlog is rapidly approaching half a billion dollars. The questions now are why did we allow this to occur and what do we do about it?
There are three primary reasons we have this road problem: 1) Outright neglect; 2) County commissioners have planned reduced road infrastructure over the past 20 years; and 3) These same commissioners have been spending your money on their utopian visions.
Neglect is simple “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?”
Reduced road capability is camouflaged under the umbrella of “Smart growth” and “Sustainability” when the purpose is to curtail any economic growth, especially in the county’s small cities where better roads are a necessity. The utopian visions are manifested in myriad “pet projects” siphoning off literally millions of taxpayer dollars that have no benefit for taxpayers in general.
As the first person to represent small cites on the Metropolitan Transportation Organization (MTPO), I reached the conclusion those who have dominated both the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) and the Gainesville City Commissions want to limit the use of automobiles in favor of an expanded bus system and other limited modes. While East Gainesville residents have a need for more bus service, the MTPO has focused on forcing West side development toward severely curtailing auto use.
What to do about the crumbling roads?
We cannot ignore the situation; the longer we wait the more expensive it will be. Some roads are now so bad that they are a hazard for public safety. The solution begins by reprioritizing the county budget to place road repair at the top of the list. Present commissioners must put aside their personal agendas to do their constitutional duty – provide core services to their constituents. They must look for alternative solutions that are cost effective such as paving overlay, which will add to the life of a road and slow degradation.
Currently, groups such as the Builders Association and Gainesville Chamber of Commerce are being asked by the County and City of Gainesville to get behind a new sales tax initiative.
Like many of you, I am skeptical of giving these commissions any more money. We must let them know they need to insist that roads, along with public safety, be the highest priority this budget year, along with the demand that non-essential spending be seriously curtailed if not suspended.
The present commission has left quite a legacy, one we will be saddled with for years. The clock is ticking, but it’s not too late. We must stand together and speak with a clear voice: “We are going to fire you this November, and choose a Commission that will fix our roads.”
Candidate, Alachua County Commission