One-sentence summary: The county commission is motoring ahead on its new mobility plan, which in addition to improving certain roads would add more bike lanes, sidewalks and transit facilities to encourage people to walk, bike or take the bus, and also replace the road impact fees developers formerly paid with more flexible “mobility fees.”
County’s spin: We keep widening roads—but congestion keeps getting worse. Studies confirm that building better roads just tends to attract more traffic. As county planner Jonathan Paul told the commission, “You can’t build your way out of congestion.” Reducing driving is a smarter goal. Developers who build sidewalks and bike lanes, mixed-use projects and other things that help reduce road use will pay lower mobility fees, which will incentivize smarter growth.
Critics’ spin: Suburban sprawl has already happened here, and, especially with our many seniors and steamy summers, people must drive to get where they’re going. It’s silly to think many will instead walk or bike or even take the bus. And by killing impact fees, we’re allowing developers to put more people on the streets but leaving taxpayers to cover more of the cost. Plus, the plan allows the county “flexibility” in designing roads rather than requiring it to follow established standards—which could make us less safe.
Attention-getting fact: It’s getting dangerous out there. In 2011, 3,708 crashes occurred in Sarasota County. By 2014, that number had increased to 5,477, a 48 percent jump. The number of crashes that resulted in injuries also went up by 29 percent during that same period.