Chamber Proposes Solution to Transportation Gridlock

Seven-member task force says sales tax should be limited to eight years and bus rapid transit should focus on Archer Road.

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has issued an in-depth report on Alachua County’s transportation needs.

The report, prepared by a seven-member task force representing a wide range of business and community interests, makes detailed and comprehensive recommendations. They include:

  • Any future sales transportation sales tax proposal should run no longer than eight years.
  • Bus rapid transit should be approached cautiously, with the first phase being along Archer Road to the Shands and the University of Florida.
  • The number of buses on high-volume routes be increased.
  • A moratorium be placed on impact fees.

Bus rapid transit refers to a system of frequent buses, possibly including dedicated bus lanes. Other than the Archer Road plans, current long-range plans for bus rapid transit are “overly ambitious, unfunded and not thoroughly vetted,” the report says.

Although the report opposes dedicating any travel lanes to bus rapid transit, it advocates creating dedicated “green lanes.” They would be used in peak travel hours for buses, vehicles with multiple occupants and highly efficient vehicles.

The task force encourages local and state government to continuously inform the public about how money is being spent and what projects are planned.

County government should create an independent citizens oversight committee or another way to be accountable for how it uses any new transportation funding, the report says.

Alachua County should invite people from communities with model transportation programs to make presentations here, the report says. One such community is Rockhill, S.C., which implemented a “Pennies for Progress” program.

The chamber “supports programs, policies and plans that increase the diversity of funding sources for transportation, so that the burden is not placed on local employers or businesses,” the report says.

A strong, interconnected transportation system “will support a robust economy and enhance the quality of life,” the report says.

City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins welcomed the work of the task force. “They agree that there needs to be a balanced approach to transportation, including both road improvements and mass transit,” he says. “We can build on this kernel as the foundation for a plan the community will support.”

Hawkins says it’s important to develop a bus rapid transit system the goes past I-75 and connects with the planned Celebration Pointe development, which would provide private funding for buses. The system also should extend to East Gainesville, he says.

Task force members included:

  • Adrian Taylor, senior minister of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church
  • Allison Megrath, manager of real estate for Plum Creek
  • Jason Haeseler, senior engineer for Chen Moore & Associates
  • Bryan Harrington, director of project development for Parrish-McCall Constructors
  • Joel Islam, president of Florida Food Service
  • Susan Crowley, assistant vice president for community relations for the University of Florida
  • Bob Cousins, vice president of Southeast Car Agency

The full report is available here.

http://www.gainesvillechamber.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Transportation-Report_2012.pdf

 

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