Was the I-10 Expansion Project Justified?

23 01 2009

By Kartik Krishnaiyer

In 2001 the Florida Department of Transportation announced their intention to expand Interstate 10 through Tallahassee. At the same time stretches of Interstate highways through the Fort Myers/Naples area, Brevard County and Polk County that were burdened with incredible traffic loads due to rapid population increases were told to wait until later.

Interstate 10 in Florida does not carry a large amount of “interstate traffic.” That is why the federal government in the 1990s provided money for expansion of I-75 as a connecting traffic route between the Florida/Georgia line and Wildwood as well as for I-95 between Jacksonville and the I-4 junction near Daytona Beach.

I-10 is a route that traverses through sparsely populated areas between Okaloosa County and Jacksonville. Leon County is in fact the only county that exceeds 100,000 residents in the 300 miles between Crestview and Jacksonville. This is in direct contrast to I-95 whose entire path South of Jacksonville is through counties that exceed 100,000 residents with the exception of geographically compact Flagler County.

Yet, the 1-95 expansion through Brevard County, which has almost twice the residents of Leon County was delayed for several years. Additionally, I-95 is used as a route to travel from point to point within Brevard County more than I-10 is within Leon County which is centered around one urban area.

Today the I-95 is finally being expanded from Palm Bay northward to the junction with the Beachline Expressway/SR 528.  Congressman Connie Mack had to fight vigorously for federal funding to expand an incredibly congested stretch of I-75 from Naples to just South of Fort Myers. Construction began on this stretch of road last year a full three years after the I-10 project began construction. Yet the area covered by the highway expansion has more than twice as many residents and perhaps ten times as many annual tourists as the area of the I-10 expansion.

Work on I-4 in Polk County still needs to be done: this stretch of highway from Lakeland to Haines City has been badly congested since the mid 1980s. At some point Central Florida’s major expressway is going to have to be a seamless travel route from Tampa to Daytona Beach connecting a rapidly emerging mega metropolitan area. Punting on this while state money was spent on a relatively minor problem was foolish.

Yet the state spent $152.5 million to expand a road just outside the state capitol that did not need expansion. The decision to expand I-10 when FDOT bagan the project delayed other critical items proposed by Governor Bush in the Mobility 2000 plan further into the future. Can this expense be justified in a time of budget crisis and other real traffic needs for Florida?

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3 responses

23 01 2009
Anonymous

The most important aspect of this is the continued excess in Tallahassee and the attempts to build the city into an imperial capitol much like Sacremento and Albany have become.

In a state with spectacular beaches like Destin, Daytona and Sanibel, Disney World, the Everglades, Miami, the most cosmopolitan American city south of New York, natural beauty, the St John’s river, the keys, etc, etc, the capitol city has nothing.

It’s a fourth rate city in a first rate state. It looks nothing like the rest of the state, and besides being the seat of government and having a major university, Tallahassee has absolutely no interaction with the real Florida.

An attempt has been made going back to the 1970s to justify Tallahassee as the capitol. Recall some legislators from south Florida wanted the capitol moved to Orlando. Remember they wanted to extend the Turnpike to Tallahassee from Ocala once. Why? Just to justify Tallahassee. The big bend area has less people than any single county on the I-4 corridor. People in the capitol just don’t want to accept that.

Even Gainesville the home of the other major university is more a real florida town with paynes prairie and silver springs nearby than Tallahassee which has nothing.

The stretch of I-75 you reference is now being worked on. I am sure that highway has twice the traffic I-10 does through Tallahassee, but you fail to address why the I-10 project took precedence. It’s Tallahassee bureaucrats enhancing the look of their city.

28 01 2009
T Rex

I still believe the capitol should be moved to Orlando.

20 02 2009
xtsam

COME ON!! Don’t waste time and money to move the capitol to Orlando or Miami. Tallahassee will continues growing and will be a great place to live since Orlando and Miami are getting over crowed so bad!!! I visited Tallahassee couples times and has nice hills, good universities, shopping malls, and nice urban developing areas around the downtown.

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