Thursday, August 10, 2006

Speculators and Sprawl

A letter to the editor in Tuesday's SHT had some pertinent comments on the Florida way of life:

The proposal by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority to build a beltway around Tampa through presently undeveloped or lightly developed lands is an invitation for sprawl on a monumental scale -- sprawl that will make the sprawl we are dealing with now look like child's play.

Why would government invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a scheme whose only purpose is to bypass existing sprawl, when the very act of doing so will only result in sprawl squared? The answer is land speculation.

By running an expressway out through the boondocks, land that is currently appraised at the value of pastureland will, due to its location in proximity to a superhighway, become worth many times what it is now.

Our transportation planning should not further the interests of speculators who have a position in raw land.We are so far behind now, in terms of existing highways failing to meet demand because of traffic generated by development, that it will take at least 20 years just to catch up. It would be foolish on our part to allow a beltway to be thrown farther out into the hinterland and then try to catch up to the development that would necessarily follow.

More highways in different places will not help. We need to start being smart in planning, by getting the most out of our existing rights of way and by increasing funding for public transportation operations through our urban cores.

Don't let land speculators call the shots. We must use our taxes to make the property in which we have invested -- our homes and businesses -- worth more through intelligent and efficient transportation planning and implementation.

Richard C. Thomas

Richard makes an excellent point. For too long, land speculators in Florida and elsewhere have used government decisions to line their pockets at the expense of tax payers. We all know the havoc speculators have wrought on affordable housing in the last couple years.

Investing in public transportation is much more efficient than building more roads in undeveloped areas.

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