Recently, I had the misfortune of traveling along SR 50 in east Orange County.
What a mess. The traffic is horrendous. It seems every person east of UCF is trying to use the same road to get downtown.
In this part of the world, unlike St. Pete and Pinellas — where traffic is bad only during rush hour — traffic is always horrible, no matter what time of day.
Asking around, I learned that, basically, the government has no money to help fix roads; development, which usually helps pay for road upgrades, has been limited to small, rural projects.
In these parts, it’s been decades since a large-scale development project was approved.
Not that folks haven’t tried. But after developers show up with big plans, they run headlong into an imaginary boundary prohibiting development east of the “Econ,” as locals call the Econlockhathee River.
As if there were a giant force-field keeping Wookies separate from the Empire.
A simple Google Earth search makes it clear: lots of people already live “east of the Econ.” Apparently, the real point is to prevent any new people from moving in.
And there are a lot of people who clearly feel the same.
As I searched around for information about projects, I came across a letter from Seminole County, which objected to the uncoordinated and unplanned urbanization of the area, as well as opposing a proposed bridge across the fabled Econlockhathee River.
After again summoning the power of Google Earth, I examined the existing development in the area and how Seminole County compares to Orange County.
I know putting things into context can be annoying, but in this case, Seminole County ought to look in the mirror before it tries telling Orange County how to plan for growth.
With the amount of development allowed by Seminole County in and around the Econ, the Little Econ River and the number of houses in the town of Chuluota, it’s clear folks in Seminole County just don’t want to share their pastoral lifestyle with anyone else.
Of course, since humans are perpetual optimists developers are trying again.
Next week, the Orange County Commission is scheduled to vote on two developments, which might actually help alleviate traffic.
It is my understanding that developers agreed to more than $100 million in road improvements — something that will certainly be a plus.
Now, I know it’s counterintuitive to think adding cars will actually fix traffic congestion.
But when someone else is paying to fix your failing roads, that’s how the math works. You see, developers won’t build without a certain density (e.g., houses) and they sure won’t pay for any road improvements without enough density to make it worthwhile.
So, here we are stuck with a paradox: If you want a fix to the traffic problem, support the developments. If you don’t, and like traffic as it is now, then simply oppose development.