Neighbors will have a say on TBX interstate project | Nov. 14
Traffic problems need creative fix
All Tampa Bay should oppose the proposed I-275 toll road. First, the proposed plan will destroy 100 homes, 30 businesses, public gardens and a community center in the Tampa Heights-Seminole Heights area. Additionally, it would contaminate these two neighborhoods with a cesspool of noise and air pollution. During peak times, the toll for using this road from Bearss Avenue to downtown Tampa is estimated to be $18 per trip one way and $36 per round trip. All this for the sole purpose of saving commute time for well-heeled individuals.
History's lesson is that Tampa Bay's roadway expansions do not reduce congestion. Case in point: Millions were spent on the I-275 expansion from "malfunction junction" to West Shore. Just months after the completion, that section is just as congested as ever. Additionally, homes on the north side of I-275 and west of Lois Avenue are inundated with noise and pollution. Much of the shrubbery in the block nearest the exit ramp expansion is covered with black, oily soot. Thus, Tampa Bay earned the dubious distinction of being ranked No. 11 in the nation for traffic congestion, according to TomTom International.
Since expansions do not work, a paradigm shift is needed. The logical solution requires a 10 percent or more reduction of the number of cars on the road and a replacement mode of travel that is more comfortable, cheaper and faster for the commuting public. An initial solution could be the bus on shoulder system, or BOSS, which allows buses to use highway emergency lanes. BOSS could be coupled with a subsidized marriage to Lyft/Uber, which could move people from Point A (for instance, homes in a 10-mile radius around I-275 and Bearss Avenue) to Point B (an express bus hub located near Bearss and I-275). The same scenario would be repeated on I-4, I-75 and major thoroughfares. In addition, travel time and congestion could be reduced by synchronizing traffic signals.
It is past time to stop the single-minded approach of more pavement as the only means of dealing with traffic congestion.
Howard F. Harris Jr., Tampa
Obama's complacency on terror | Nov. 17, commentary
Critics lack an alternative
It must be wonderful to be Marc Thiessen, sitting in the catbird seat and casting aspersions about President Barack Obama's "complacency" about ISIS, a thought echoed in several recent letters.
Nowhere in the column — or the letters — is there one sensible suggestion about what Obama or the United States should do. As with the Affordable Care Act, the critics haven't a shred of an alternative plan. Are they really asking that we deploy American troops to fight in Syria? Are they really recommending another "surge," spending another $1.7 trillion (and counting) to be paid by our children in money and blood?
The plain fact is that American bungling in Iraq after 9/11 unleashed a hornet's nest of problems throughout the region, perhaps beyond anyone's control at this point. Frankly, I am grateful that we have a president who has steadfastly stood against plodding into yet another quagmire in Yemen, Libya, Syria or myriad other places.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Lawmakers propose needle exchange Nov. 2
Fight the spread of HIV
This article discusses a bill to authorize and evaluate a needle exchange program in Florida. The bill, the Infectious Disease Elimination Act, is good legislation. However, it's frustrating that a more expansive and advanced bill is not being introduced.
Florida has the second- and third-most cases of HIV and AIDS in the nation, respectively. Of those with HIV in the state, 20 percent contracted the virus through intravenous drug use. Florida cannot afford to wait until 2020 for a program to stop the spread of this disease.
Needle exchange is not a new HIV reduction and elimination strategy. Some 30 states have implemented programs. Surprisingly, even fairly conservative states such as Indiana and Kentucky have quickly pushed legislation through to allow for needle exchanges. Fear of increased drug abuse because of the availability of clean needles is unfounded.
Potential benefits of the IDEA Act bill are: provision of clean needles; proper disposal of used needles; access to drug treatment and medical care; and reduction in HIV, including mother-to-child transmission.
Florida needs to act quickly to reduce the number of HIV cases with legislation such as the IDEA Act, but also by taking steps to broaden the scope of the bill. Please join me in asking our legislators to support legislation to test the effectiveness of a needle exchange program in our state.
Rachel Logan, Tampa
Refugee plan challenged | Nov. 17
Against our principles
More than half of U.S. governors would reject people fleeing persecution and repression because of their national origin or religion. The forces of terrorism are succeeding. They are persuading us to change one of the fundamental characteristics that has made this country great.
If we continue down this path, we'll need to give the Statue of Liberty back to France.
Jonathan K. Jaberg, Largo
Remember our history
It is unbelievable that many governors are refusing to accept the Syrian people, who have gone through hell, into their states. I agree that the vetting process has got to be at the highest level.
But we cannot forget history. During World War II, America turned shiploads of Jewish people away. They were refused in other countries and many died in the death camps. That is a blemish on our history.
Perhaps if these states would come up with a plan to monitor these people until this very long process is complete, they could stop these knee-jerk reactions to the report of one Syrian monster entering France with a stolen passport.
Please don't forget history and the suffering of the Jewish people because we were not sensitive to their plight. That is not who America is.
Diane M. Drake, Temple Terrace