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Sprawl’s high cost to taxpayers

By Staff | Nov 7, 2013

To the editor:

At this time local leaders are discussing road projects and are opening up discussions for public input. In my opinion, at a time when we have just faced budget cuts it would be more prudent to avoid spending taxpayer money on road widening projects.

As we plan the future of our community we should instead use modern methods of APA green planning, and pursue sustainable growth. Instead of overpasses, we need traffic calming. Instead of sprawl, if there is funding available, we need to focus on our existing business areas and enhance them. If we plan to spend any extra money – focus it on fixing potholes, paving existing roads, installing wider sidewalks, bike lanes and planting shade trees for paths. Such improvements make communities more desirable, and enhance property values/quality of life.

The current cost of 1 mile of road can be up to $9 million. Wide roads bring noise, congestion and are expensive. In addition, they cost money to maintain over the years. Sprawl should not be the goal as we plan the future of our community.

Wide and expensive 6 lane roads are relics of the past (1950’s-60). During that period Robert Moses built his wide, expensive and main street ruining roads through the middle of communities, right past front yards. His thoroughfares went where he wanted them to go with little consideration for those who would have to live with a 6 lane road running through their front yard. Main Streets across the U.S. died as a result as cars drove out of communities-not to them. As a teen, my friends and I roller-skated on an empty, un-used, closed off portion of his failed and expensive roadway. The traffic Moses envisioned never materialized in our area, but the property values did drop. Residents now opened their front doors to see a highway, instead of the beautiful river view they once had. (In fact I had heard last that that town may be tearing out the roadway to spend more taxpayer money to restore the view).

In other areas residents have organized to oppose expensive and wasteful development and instead chose more sustainable green planning that still creates jobs by making communities more desirable. Sanibel residents organized early to make sure their island stayed green, bike friendly. They successfully preserved historic buildings and shops along their main way. Their tourism is robust and property values there remain high.

The Hamptons is another example. Citizens there spoke up and opposed Suffolk County’s attempts to push Montauk Highway widening to the east end of Long Island. They chose quality of life first. They preferred to limit the expansion of the highway through their beautiful towns. To this day, the roads in the Hamptons are thin, bike friendly and wind through their quaint countryside, resulting in the preservation of their main streets, farms, historic homes and horse stables. In addition, the successful LIRR, with its shiny 2 decker railcars, are always full with tourists who appreciate the green, quiet, and sustainable planning efforts there. Because residents in the Hamptons chose sustainable planning, that area has some of the strongest and highest property values in the nation.

Once tourists come here we should hope they will want to stay. The only way to ensure that is with more sustainable and modern green planning, increasing green spaces, improving bike paths, creating walkways with shade and making sure our community is peaceful, quiet and enjoyable.


Cape Coral