The planet of traffic backups
We’ve been talking for 30 years in this county about growth and what that might look like.
Well, now we get to see it every day in slow motion on State Road 44, U.S. 19, and the main streets of Crystal River and Inverness.
Backups at certain intersections are an instant source of frustration. I’m most familiar with Inverness but I see what’s going on all around the county.
And the most dreaded part, one we all acknowledge, is it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
The public is beginning to vent its frustration at the county commission. Citizens want clogged roads cleared now. Motorists wait three light changes to get through intersections that required no such wait a year ago. And they ain’t happy about it.
Oddly, while one segment of the community yells for an answer to traffic, another segment wants to stop an entirely different road — the turnpike extension.
All this is happening at the same time the Suncoast Parkway is weeks away from opening to S.R. 44 — a momentous feat that, dare I say, is almost getting lost in the road reality we face each day. Yay the parkway’s here! Now what do we do about all these traffic backups?
See what I mean?
The script is writing itself. We need an organized transportation plan, a countywide look at today and 20 years from now so that our move toward greatness — that should be our goal, right? — isn’t stalled (ha!) right out of the gate because we refuse to accept we have a problem getting folks from here to there.
Until we accept it, we won’t deal with it.
Any elected official who can say he/she saw this traffic dilemma coming two years ago is either A) full of it, or B) has some explaining to do because I don’t remember anyone in office sounding this alarm until very recently when we all started to notice it at the same time.
I was strolling through a batch of last week’s county commission email when I came across the one that accompanies today’s blog . It is written to Commissioner Jeff Kinnard (who surprised the guy by responding) and sums up the public’s ire succinctly.
I don’t normally reprint an email exactly as I viewed it, but I didn’t want to touch this one. There’s a certain tone that comes out just as it is:
“YOU MUST BE FROM A DIFFERENT PLANET , HAVE YOU EVER DRIVEN AROUND 3-6PM AND BEEN STOPPED AT THE LIGHT JUST BY APPLEBEES, IF YOU HAVE IT IS
COMMON TO WAIT FOR THREE OR FOUR LIGHT CHANGES BEFORE YOU PASS THAT SPOT , OR EVEN AT THE LIGHT AT WINN DIXIE ON 44.OR ANYWHERE .
WE THINKING OF GOING BACK TO NEW YORK CITY WHERE THE TRAFFIC IS LESS, THAT’S HOW BAD ITS GETTING HERE.
NOW WITH ALL THE BUILDINGS AND 400 NEW HOMES AND 491/486 NEW BUILDINGS COMING IT WILL BE A NITEMARE, BUT IT SEEMS COUNTY COMMISSINERS
ONLY WANT MORE AND WHEN IT GETS SO BAD THEY WILL MOVE ELSEWHERE , HUUMM WONDER WHAT REASON THEY ARE LETTING ALL THESE BUSINESS IN.
LETS ADD NEW TAXES , LETS MAKE THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE WITH WELLS AND SEPTIC , MUST NOW USE WHAT WE INSTALL AND PAY US AND PAY US AND PAY US.
WORLD GONE CRAZEY WITH GREED
WELL KNOW WONT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO YOU SO GOODBY.”
In his response, Kinnard told the man that he sees the traffic issues like everyone else, but the county can’t stop people from developing their land if they’ve got the right to do that.
I’m not really going anywhere with this, and that’s OK. We don’t need to solve this problem, we need to talk about it. This county has made great, and not-so-great, decisions about transportation. Looking back, I’d say the one consistency is public involvement. The more the public is engaged, the better the outcome. Simple as that.
I don’t have any idea how to solve our road problems. And, yeah, it frustrates the heck out of me too that it’s going to get worse. So let’s start talking, let’s start planning, let’s figure it out.
Because we’re not from a different planet.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.