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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Paula Likes Pork

Well it didn't take long for Alachua County Commissioner Paula DeLaney to prove me right, and it is one time I wish I was wrong.

DeLaney, who replaced Penny Wheat on the commission when Wheat decided not to run for re-election, provided a crucial third vote in favor of four-laning Southwest 24th Avenue when it is paved.

As I wrote previously (and please read that for a lengthy explanation), the only reason for four-laning that road is to help Clark Butler expand Butler Plaza. The county had previously voted 3-2 to two-lane the road and make it bike and pedestrian friendly, congruent with the citizen-led plan to make that undeveloped area into a student village.

Because of the size of Butler's planned expansion, he needed the road to be four lanes to ensure there was enough road capacity to handle the additional traffic the expansion will create.

DeLaney, who personally thanked Butler in her first speech as a commissioner (Butler was one of her generous campaign contributors), used the same tired propaganda about how the four-lane road will help ease traffic congestion and such.

It is a load of crap, simply put. Anyone with any knowledge of land planning and growth management will tell you that traffic planning drives growth and that road expansions only invite more traffic and growth and therefore, traffic congestion. Butler's development will quickly eat up the road capacity.

This is a slap in the face to all of the citizens who participated in the student village plan. Four-laning this road is a political perk bought by Butler through campaign contributions to local, state and federal officials. People should be outraged.

DeLaney gets the Knucklehead of the Week award for handing out this piece of pork for Butler. If his development moves forward – and that is not a certainty, just a likelihood – then that area of town will be even more congested than it is now. More importantly, from DeLaney's point of view, her good friend Clark Butler will be even richer than he is now.

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