I've lived in Tampa Bay for more than 17 years, and I can never remember a time that there wasn't a major road construction project taking place.
Good for the economy? Sure. Good for people working in the road construction business? Of course. A pain in the neck for drivers? Oh yeah.
There are two major problems with road construction projects in Tampa Bay. One is that they always seem to be working on the same roads (case in point: Interstate 275).
And two, they take forever to finish a project. Is it possible that the Egyptians built a pyramid faster than a major road construction project is completed in Tampa Bay? Could be close.
The poster child for slow road construction is US 19 in Pinellas County. The stretch through Largo and Clearwater was supposed to be done last year. Go back to the 2009 groundbreaking. That's what we were told.
In 2014, they are nowhere close to being done. In fact -- and this is amazing -- the state has given them an extra $3 million to "hurry up" and get everything done by 2015... two years late.
But here's the best part: if the contractor gets the work done "early," they get an additional $1.6 million incentive.
So, let me understand this. State highway folks sign a deal and the company they made the deal with is late. No problem, here's some extra money... and if you're not too late, we'll give you even more money.
We live in strange times, don't we?
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The problem with highway construction is that no one is held accountable. The state hands out the money, and then what? Who do you complain to if your business is suffering, or you're stuck in traffic because it takes years to rebuild a road?
Here's my suggestion: we have some elections coming up... governor, state House, county commission. Let's start asking some tough questions. Don't let our elected officials off the hook. Ask them about these never-ending road projects. Let's make it campaign issue number 1.
Demand the politicians do something. Don't let them point fingers to someone else. Hold them accountable and if they dodge the issue, don't vote for them.
The state is giving out your money and no one is taking responsibility. Quite simply, the road construction situation in Tampa Bay is broken and needs to be fixed.
For those politicians who won't help us, let's send a clear message: fix those roads faster and meet a deadline without spending more of our money.
I'm Elliott Wiser, President and General Manager of 10 News, and that's my opinion.