Will Florida Become A Paradise Lost?

April 19, 2011 18 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Sierra Club releases an open letter to Governor Rick Scott about creating a 21st century transportation system in Florida. Will Rick Scott listen?

April 15, 2011

Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL  32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott:

Will Florida become a Paradise Lost?

Currently, Florida runs on oil.  As long as our state remains dependent upon oil, Floridians will continue to suffer financially as prices increase at the pump and we pay more money to fuel our vehicles.

The Jacksonville Terminal courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

In the early twentieth century, the railroads of Flagler and Plant helped spur the development of Florida.  It is ironic that in the twenty-first century, public transit has not expanded sufficiently to meet transportation needs of that development.  Instead of moving forward with fuel-efficient transportation choices, like improved public transit, Florida has taken a step backwards by promoting more oil drilling to fuel more cars on more highways.

Central Florida's deceased High Speed Rail plan.

Governor, you were elected on your campaign promise to get Floridians back to work.  However, your rejection of Federal monies to fund a highly popular high-speed rail project in the state lost the potential for 24,000 jobs.  In addition to that catastrophic loss of jobs and money to Florida residents, the Sunshine State has lost the opportunity to be America’s leader in 21st century transportation alternatives that would have enticed new businesses and residents to locate to Florida.

More roads and congestion in Florida's future?

Instead, your reliance on auto usage and using taxes to build more roads reflects neither innovation nor opportunity for growth.  It just proves to the rest of the nation that Florida lacks commitment to attract investment and invest in quality of life for residents and visitors, relying on tired solutions (building more roads and requiring more oil) to solve 21st century transportation problems.

Is promoting this type of living environment the answer to Florida's economic recovery?

For decades, Florida’s economic growth was measured by the proliferation of residential developments and highways to accommodate them.  The result was two problems that continue to plague our state and our way of life: massive urban sprawl and traffic congestion. Will newly retired baby boomers and visitors want to come to Florida if they have to face daily bumper-to-bumper traffic and air pollution?  Will new businesses want to establish offices in a state where employees have limited access to reliable public transit?

Cleveland's Euclid Avenue is a great example of a street designed for all forms of mobility.

The answer is simple.  Florida needs to take the lead in providing cleaner and greener transportation choices, with better mass transit and routes that promote walking and bicycling.  Such transportation reforms will also create more jobs than simply building new roads.

Let’s get to work, Governor Scott, to create a 21st century transportation system in Florida that will make our state sustainable, clean and green before Florida becomes Paradise Lost.


Linda Bremer
Steering Committee, Sierra Club Florida
Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign
1650-302 Margaret Street
Jacksonville, FL  32204

Frank Jackalone
Senior Field Organizing Manager
Sierra Club
111 Second Ave., Ste.1001
St. Petersburg, FL  33701

John D. Hopkins
Executive Director
Green Mobility Network
200 S. Biscayne Blvd., 6th Floor
Miami, FL 33131

Gloria Katz
Smart Growth Partnership
2823 NE 36th St.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308

Brad Ashwell
Legislative Advocate
Florida PIRG
310 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Bill Newton
Executive Director
Florida Consumer Action Network
3006 W. Kennedy Blvd., Ste. B
Tampa, Florida 33609

Ilysia Shattuck
Executive Director
Florida Conservation Alliance
7403 Alafia Ridge Loop
Riverview, FL  33569

Mike Lasche
Executive Director
Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates
P.O. Box 3746
Sarasota, FL  34230