If there is one thing government is good at, it is problem-solving. They find and fix problems with such amazing efficiency, it is a wonder there remains any need for private industry at all.
Our Florida Legislature is a good example of this. They have discovered an area oft called the Nature Coast, the west coast of Florida north of the Tampa Bay area. Due to its remote location, parts of it remain undeveloped.
Unfortunately, parts of the west coast still have natural swamps infested with wildlife. There are acres of land without any asphalt. Absent that protective impervious layer, dangerous rain seeps into the aquifer. Worse, there are trees belching out oxygen, with birds making noise everywhere.
The Legislature is alert to these problems. Paying careful attention to the road-building lobby, they are in the process of crafting the Pave Florida Act of 2019. The plan is to spend $1.5 billion (with a “B”) on three toll roads through the wilderness.
What better way to stamp out all that nasty wildlife, and eliminate all those oxygen-belching trees, than three big north-south toll roads? We are in luck: The Legislature is working on it even as I write.
In Florida politics, you never want to follow the money. If you did, you might get the wrong impression. Surely, it is but a coincidence that the Florida Transportation Builders Association, the Florida Asphalt Contractors Association and, of course, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, are pushing hard for Pave Florida 2019.
So, it seems, are some unusually large landowners hoping to develop their property based on new roads. I am not sure why the taxpayers would want to pay for new development that will degrade their quality of life. It is, however, a nearly universal belief among developers that other people should pay taxes to build the roads for their new developments.
The anticipated cost, assuming always no inflation, overruns, change orders, interest on bonds and added kickbacks, is about $1.5 billion. These assumptions may be unrealistic, since prices for government projects usually increase over the initial estimates.
However, Florida will soon have 25 million people, so your share of Pave Florida 2019 is only about $60. And from this, we can tell what they are thinking up in Tallahassee — you probably have that much in the sofa cushions, and folks will have to move their stuff anyway when the paving starts.
— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.