Sunday, July 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The sooner, the better for two Tampa highway projects

Tampa Bay has one of the worst mass transit systems of similar metro areas in the nation, and it needs new investments in bus and rail networks to manage its growth and successfully compete. But better roads are an important part of the equation, too, which is why two announcements this month are so encouraging.

The Florida Department of Transportation announced plans to add an additional, free lane in both directions on the approaches to the Howard Frankland Bridge around the interchange with West Shore on the Tampa side of I-275. Motorists are all too familiar with one of the worst bottlenecks in the region, when rush-hour traffic backs up for miles on the bridge thanks to heavy congestion in West Shore.

The DOT would add a third lane in both directions, which also would improve southbound traffic to St. Petersburg. It also has signaled a change of heart, proposing to fast-track the new lanes rather than weave the project into a larger take-it-or-leave-it proposal known as Tampa Bay Next, a controversial regional highway expansion plan. The lanes could open by 2021.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority also has moved ahead with plans to build an elevated toll road connecting the Gandy Bridge to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. Long seen as an acute regional need, the 1.6-mile-long Selmon extension will let through traffic along Gandy flow faster between Tampa and St. Petersburg, making a better connection between the area's two major downtowns, easing local traffic congestion on Gandy Boulevard and improving the emergency evacuation routes for the region.

The expressway authority awarded a $230 million construction contract, with work beginning next year and an anticipated opening date in late 2020. Officials estimate the extension will carry 19,000 vehicles per day, or 40 percent of the traffic currently on Gandy. This is a well-balanced project that will speed commutes across the bay, better protect the nearby neighborhoods and more closely link the futures of St. Petersburg and Tampa.

The region will not continue to grow and improve its quality of life without adding new bus and rail options as part of a modern transportation system. But it is no small achievement to make major improvements to the gateways of two of the three bridges connecting Pinellas and Hillsborough, and to bring those improvements on line at roughly the same time. This testifies to the hard work by local advocates and to the focus on local priorities by the DOT and expressway authority.

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Editorial: NFL calls wise time-out on disciplining protests

The National Football League kept an embarrassing situation from becoming even worse by shelving its new policy clamping down on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.The league announced late Thursday it would suspend the 2-month old p...
Published: 07/20/18
Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is shoring up his final year in office with the proposed city budget he released Thursday. The plan includes no big-ticket items, opting instead to maintain ongoing investments in parks, roads and other basic public services....
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18

IRS making ‘dark money’ darker

Under a perverse interpretation of federal law, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to "social welfare" can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead ...
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

The CrossBay Ferry appears headed for another round of rides across Tampa Bay, with local governments pledging one more year of financial support. But as more taxpayer money is steered into this project, it’s important to recognize what purpose the f...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Published: 07/18/18
Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

July in Florida. The height of summer tourist season. Rental cars clog the highways and tourists crowd the beaches, motels and all-you-can-eat shrimp joints. Many of our neighbors are off to North Carolina or somewhere cooler. So it’s an awfully inco...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18