Special to Central Florida Politics by the Seminole Chronicle
By Doug Guetzloe
The recent announcement by the Florida Department of Transportation that it is pulling the plug on over $300 million in anticipated road projects slated for Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties should be a major concern for taxpayers.
This announcement is an outrage and affront to the taxpayers of Central Florida.
The recent approval by Governor Rick Scott for the proposed SunRail system has resulted in moving much-needed road funds from long-awaited repairs and expansions to the incredibly worthless rail project.
The local projects that are now on hold include much needed double lane expansion of a off Highway 17/92 in Seminole County and repairs to State Road 50 in Orange County, US Highway 192 in Osceola County and many other long-scheduled repairs and improvements.
Taxpayers have stated their opposition to the embattled SunRail project and commuter rail in general for over fifteen years. Ax the Tax has led six successful anti-tax battles where taxpayers have voted down rail proposals going back to the first attempt to pass a tax for rail in 1986. That vote, a tri-county vote including Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, named the “Metropolitan Transportation Authority” was voted down by a vote of 81 to 19 percent.
The most recent attempt to pass a tax for rail was the ill-fated Crotty “Mobility 2020″ Transportation plan in Orange County and voters voted it down 55-45 percent in 2003.
In 2010, Ax the Tax was the catalyst behind the vote against rail that occurred in Hillsborough County, leading the opposition to a landslide 58 percent vote against rail.
In another controversial move for taxpayers, FDOT and the beleaguered Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority just announced that they had reached a tentative deal to split the cost of the highly controversial $1.8 billion Wekiva Parkway project in Seminole County.
The Expressway Authority, which includes Seminole County roadways, has been a target of a recent grand jury report that found Crotty and the expressway board and some staff members involved in a “culture of corruption” that provided a seemingly never-ending source of campaign money for Crotty and his political endeavors.
Even though FDOT has not come up with a plan or the resources to fund their commitment of $500 million for the controversial toll-road extension, amazingly the expressway is moving ahead with an additional toll increase ostensibly to fund the remaining $1.3 billion deficit in the funding for the 25-mile extension through the scenic Wekiva park area.
Citizens should be outraged at the arbitrary moves by un-elected boards like the expressway authority and unresponsive bureaucracies like the FDOT.
Hard-earned tax dollars should go toward proven transportation alternatives – not rail – and for much-needed repairs to our road systems. The effort by new-urbanists to bury the car and hop on board rail is planned obsolescence and a worthless expenditure of our tax dollars.