I-275 paving job gets into a jam | April 8
Apology for delays in I-275 repair
The Florida Department of Transportation apologizes for the delays and inconveniences caused by roadwork on northbound I-275 in the West Shore area from April 5 to 8.
Balancing drivers' needs with reconstruction efforts is no easy task and is a responsibility we take very seriously. In order to give drivers the same number of through lanes during construction as were available before the project began, lane closures are scheduled during overnight periods. Occasionally, the normal allowable hours are not sufficient to perform certain construction activities; this was the issue facing project management leading up to Saturday night, April 6.
The contractor's plans called for shifting traffic into a temporary alignment for several months to move traffic away from a future construction area — allowing access to proceed with the project while keeping drivers and workers safe. While this was successfully achieved, it took longer than anticipated due to unexpected subsurface conditions.
We learned from this experience and fully intend to apply these lessons learned as this project and others move forward.
The contracting team has a proven track record of delivering quality projects on time and we are confident this will be the case with the current project. However, the contractor will be held accountable.
We will continue to ensure we provide a safe and reliable transportation system for the entire community.
Paul Steinman, FDOT District 7 secretary, Tampa
Worthy cause, bad funding
Greenlight Pinellas is a worthy cause with a misguided funding scheme that hurts the poor while helping the affluent avoid a small tax on their property. Greenlight Pinellas ironically seeks to fund enhanced public transportation with a sales tax increase that disproportionately affects the poor and working classes, the same folks who use the bus system to get around.
Greenlight's proposal will find few friends politically even after spending $800,000 in "educational outreach." Conservatives oppose big government programs and dislike taxes of any sort. Progressives dislike sales taxes because workers and the poor spend proportionally more of their income on taxable goods and services than do the rich. The Greenlight funding formula shifts costs off property owners while imposing a 14 percent increase (1 cent) on every taxable purchase from candy bars to washing machines and soon Internet purchases, all in the name of easing traffic.
A solid public transport system including buses, vans, light rail and streetcars will help to reduce traffic and the constant road construction while boosting property values and tourism. Greenlight Pinellas should develop a broader funding formula more closely linked to transportation, construction and tourism that does not include a sales tax increase on general goods and services.
Dan Gerson, Dunedin
Abortion curbs backed | April 12
Protect the unborn
I support HB 59 because it is just common sense. Since fetuses are developing human beings, how can we not protect our children? If we have laws that protect turtle eggs, how can we not protect our own species? To abortion rights advocates who argue that this bill is intended to create "personhood" rights for the fetus, I ask: Why not? What is wrong with protecting the innocent from violent crimes?
Regina Mirabella, Hudson
Caring for children
The Republican representative says, "We can agree as a civilized society that a viable life deserves a chance." It seems that the GOP is more interested in a fetus than in a living human being, a living child. These same people have prevented expansion of Medicaid, which would give a chance" for healthy development of children. As it is, with the GOP's policies we end up with a rate of child poverty that is three times higher than in Italy, France and Germany and six times higher than in Scandinavia. All those "civilized" countries don't have the GOP-style restrictive laws on abortions.
Paul Mathieu, Sun City Center
The Republican-led Legislature's concern for the unborn would be a little less hypocritical if once the children were born they had health insurance or their parents had jobs to provide for them. These bills in Tallahassee are a ploy to get people riled up and the Republican base to the polls.
Mary Sheppard, Riverview
Mayor's timeline for Pier in doubt | April 11
Make use of what's there
While we wait for the Pier redevelopment to begin, we have thousands of visitors and residents who could enjoy the Pier now with a few minor, relatively low-cost actions: (1) add picnic tables; (2) allow food trucks; and (3) add air conditioned restroom trailers like at golf tournaments. This would allow everyone to enjoy the Pier in a positive manner and show that St. Petersburg can adapt to meet the needs of citizens and visitors. The Pier can be much more than just a fishing spot while we wait.
Howard Taylor, St. Petersburg
Attack ads: behind the scenes | April 11
Reid's selective outrage
Sen. Harry Reid and the Democrats' obsession with the Koch brothers is somewhat humorous until Reid starts calling them "un-American." If Reid thinks the Kochs are doing something with their political ads that is against the law, let him prove it. However, I'm sure Reid has no problems with the ads generated by George Soros, whose main objectives are to vilify anything conservative and Republican. Wasn't Soros the one who said "removing George W. Bush from office was the central focus of my life and a matter of life and death"? Sounds like Reid has shifting standards when it comes to political ads.
Dayle R. Stevens, Largo