Published On: Fri, Jul 21st, 2017

The Old Way of Building More Road Space to Address Traffic is no Longer a Viable Option

By: C. Ron Allen

It is no secret that Boca Raton’s traffic is the pits – or at least – not far from it.

The overbuilding-overcrowding angst, which is quickly affecting the quality of life throughout South Florida, is alive and well here and it is chipping away at the time we have to actually work, which means less time to make money. It is also encroaching on the time we have to play and spend with family and loved ones.

Traffic snarl is nothing new. “Traffic” is a drum that community activists have been beating since I was a reporter here in the mid-1990’s.  For various reasons, our local politicians have capitalized on that. Some have suggested reducing car lanes on city streets, reconfiguring streets, adding bike lanes and widening sidewalks to promote pedestrian/bike/motorist-friendly neighborhoods.

Then there were those slow-growth candidates, who made it a campaign issue, advocating for tighter scrutiny of new development in the city.

But the city now finds itself in a quandary, and the problem seems to be getting worse. In fact, it appears their efforts, although well intentioned, have been nothing more than a Band-Aid.

Faced with ever-increasing traffic jams, city officials devised what they dubbed planned mobility districts.  These mixed-use environments considered the cutting edge of urban planning and design, were intended to attract younger workers, ‘empty nesters’, and even corporations to move and live, work, and play there without leaving their neighborhood.

Time after time, we have heard developers – in making their spiels – and even some elected officials say they envision a city where residents in certain neighborhoods, in particular, the area is known as Midtown Boca and the northwest corridor, can take the elevator downstairs to grocery shop, commute to work, go to dinner or pick up their children from school without getting into a car.

They maintain that if even a few motorists change their travel behavior and choose alternatives to the car, they can reduce gridlock across the city.

But no one is ditching their cars just yet.

Instead of seeking alternatives to cars, government officials need to find other creative ways to address the traffic problem. But then again, we are used to relying on our elected leaders for solutions only to be left with broken promises. Perhaps it is time they lean on the developers or even invite members of the private sector to come up with some innovative solutions. Perhaps the responsibility to solve Boca Raton’s transportation and mobility woes lies within our business community.

It is obvious and clear that city officials will not say no to development despite the traffic congestion. That is because they foresee a robust healthy community- such as the stretch along Military Trail, between Clint Moore and Yamato roads – which means economic growth.

As it stands right now, traffic congestion in Boca Raton will not get any better. And as experts predict it is just a matter time before the gridlock we are experiencing here mirrors that of Miami or even Los Angeles, which is considered the nation’s most congested city.

If this issue is to be addressed anytime soon, the city must develop new mixed-use transit hubs throughout Boca Raton and reach out to the business community to come up with solutions.

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  1. Thanks for some great perspective on a thorny issue. The private sector does have a role to play – as it did with getting downtown off the ground.

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