Telecommuting makes much more sense | Sunday’s letters
Sunday’s letters to the editor
Published Aug. 30, 2019

Talks on toll road plans hit pothole | Aug. 29

Why aren’t we telecommuting?

I want to know why no one is talking about a national push toward telecommuting. None of our local leaders, none of our national leaders. We have the bandwidth to stream HD movies and for millions of people to play games on their smartphones, yet telecommuting represents only a tiny fraction of workers today. An enormous number of people could easily do their jobs from home 100 percent of the time. We take video chats for granted. Why are so many people traveling to an office every single day to spend most of it sitting in front of a computer?

What if we reduced the number of daily commuters by 20 percent? 30 percent? 40 percent? Imagine the huge reduction in the daily transportation burden! Those numbers are easily doable and with honest effort, national and local incentives, and technological advances could go be far higher.

Work-from-home or even shared local spaces in people’s neighborhoods would make an enormous impact on reducing not just carbon, but less need for road capacity, less power grid capacity. The list of reduced impacts is almost endless. Think of all the strip malls in America with empty spaces that could be turned into shared spaces. Parents could be home instead of wasting two hours or more a day commuting. The list of benefits is nearly endless. I know. I work from home for a company in California and have for six years. We have the bandwidth, so we should be moving data, not people!

Thomas Markwalder, Crystal Beach

Talks on toll road plans hit pothole | Aug. 29

Toll roads aren’t the answer

I want to voice my staunch opposition to yet more needless toll roads being proposed. I’m dismayed at the leaders’ lack of vision for sustainable development and for protecting all Floridians — human and non-human. These toll roads would be disastrous. They would disrupt the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Many species who are already under severe pressure from the near-endless development Florida has allowed in pristine wild areas are clinging to a very narrow wildlife corridor that they need to be able to carry out migratory patterns that are essential to their survival. The path must be one contiguous route. Toll roads will inevitably destroy these paths as well as the species who rely on them. These roads would encourage irresponsible fossil-fuel based transportation. They would misuse limited resources to benefit a limited populace. Investing public dollars for toll roads would benefit only a small, already-privileged contingent of the population: those who have a vehicle, a driver’s license, are able-bodied enough to drive and (perhaps most confining) who are able to actually afford exorbitant toll costs on a regular basis.

Engaged and well-informed citizens acknowledge that there is a transportation issue that must be solved. But building roads, then expanding them, then building them, then expanding again is repeating the same actions over and over and expecting different results — the very definition of insanity. We need effective, efficient, proven and visionary solutions to move people across our state. High speed rail — which was practically offered to our state on a silver platter and declined over political grandstanding — and buses — clean, frequent, reliable and appropriately funded — are two good places to start.

Laurel Urena, Tampa

Talks on toll road plans hit pothole | Aug. 29

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

2019, not the 1950s

It’s clear these task forces exist to rubber-stamp an antiquated 1950s style of development. We know that these roads bring the kind of sprawl people don’t want to live in. We know that they hurt small businesses in the towns that they bypass. We know that they will destroy what’s left of the Florida environment.

Jonathan Kile, St. Petersburg

Where will they move to?

Senate President Bill Galvano says more than 900 people are moving to Florida every day. Where are these people moving to in Florida? Are they moving into rural areas or are they moving into established metropolitan areas such as Tampa, Orlando, Miami/Dade Broward and the Villages? I’m no expert but I figure people move to metropolitan areas if they want a metropolitan experience and move to rural areas if they want a rural experience.

Is it necessary to build a giant multilane highway to get reasonable broadband service to rural Floridians? Do you need to disrupt sensitive water recharge areas and habitat for numerous threatened species by building a road with a cable attached to it? Surely broadband service can be supplied without eight lanes of high-speed highway that won’t be used any more than the current Suncoast Parkway.

Mr. Galvano makes the claim that a “key task will be protection and enhancement of wildlife corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.” Please remember that this is the Florida Legislature he is talking about. This is the same elected body that has completely ignored the will of the people concerning environmental protection and the acquisition of sensitive properties. This is the same Florida Legislature that is completely in the thrall of deep-pocketed lobbyists and that routinely ignores the will of the voters.

He continues with this line of faux concern as he talks about the importance of community and public involvement in this process. What he should say is that the process is rigged in favor of the lobbyists employed by the deep-pocketed interests that will make a lot of money in the short term while the state and its less-connected residents will take the brunt of the actual cost of this boondoggle in the future.

Robert Smith, Tampa

Don’t ‘rescue’ them

I’m surprised, but encouraged, that perhaps we might be able to stop the madness someday: Local leaders whose rural areas would be impacted by proposed toll roads stood against being “rescued” and spoke of their desire to remain rural. Endless growth is an unsustainable plan supported by developers/politicians most interested in near-term profits.

John Inglis, Palm Harbor