The future of the Howard Frankland | July 18
End the fixation on toll roads
The Howard Frankland Bridge has two spans — a northbound span, opened in 1960, and a southbound span, opened in 1990. Each span has four lanes. A six-lane replacement span has been proposed for the 57-year-old northbound span.
So far, so good, right? Two more lanes to handle the traffic increases since 1990.
Well, there is a small problem. Department of Transportation planners cannot seem to stop fantasizing about toll revenues.
Their plan calls for two of the six lanes to be express toll lanes — one in each direction. How would you like to pay a toll only to find yourself hurtling along at 70 mph down a concrete tunnel slightly wider than your car, with other cars flashing by you going the other way at the same speed, only a few feet away? What happens when there is a breakdown in one of these narrow lanes? Can you imagine the backup? How many newborns will be named "Howard" after their birth in one of these backups?
The bigger problem, however, is that an unimpeded six-lane road is much more efficient than a four-lane road plus two one-lane roads. So, the current plan spends hundreds of millions of dollars and doesn't do much to improve congestion.
The DOT planners, in conjunction with budget planners, need to get off the toll idea. Roads should compete for funding out of normal tax revenue streams with any other need of the people. Roads are not a privilege, they are a right due to taxpayers.
Michael Hartman, Tampa
Elements of a long-term solution | July 19, letter
Follow other nations' lead
If more unfettered "free markets" will solve our health care crisis, I have two questions for the letter writer.
First, why do all other industrialized nations embrace single-payer health care, with per capita costs less than one-half that of the United States?
Second, why is the United States the only nation where its citizens must resort to bankruptcy courts to resolve excessive health care bills?
Government and "free markets" must work in partnership in order to "promote the general welfare," as proven by the experience of all industrialized nations except the United States.
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater
Putnam backs campus guns | July 19
No guns on campus
Here we go again: guns on college campuses. Adam Putnam wants them there; I don't. I teach on one. Ideally, college should be a place where ideas are shared and considered. Tempers have been known to rise when deeply felt beliefs are questioned, even challenged. That's okay. It's part of learning how to question both others and oneself, how to be not just critical but also self-critical, how to express oneself, and most importantly, how to listen. Some students prove better at this than others. Carrying a gun should not be a part of this process. Heated debates are fine, even necessary. Heated debaters with guns? Not so fine.
I recommend that Putnam get behind what a clear majority of Floridians want: background checks for all would-be gun owners. Many of us have become just plain tired of political decisions that profoundly affect our lives being dictated by Big Oil, Big Sugar, Big Pharma — and the NRA, which, in the case of guns on campus, should stand for Not Really Appropriate.
Richard Downing, Hudson