Spend a lot of time browsing social media or watching Fox, CNN or MSNBC, and it would be easy to be cynical about the ability of government to succeed. There is a lot of negativity in our public discourse.
It’s time we take a look at what is working. Here in North Florida, there are examples of government doing its job pretty well to improve the lives of people trying to work and raise a family.
Let’s begin with traffic. If you’ve traveled in the Tampa, Orlando or Miami areas, you understand gridlock. Traffic is much worse there than it is here. And because those metro areas are largely built out, there is little that can be done about it.
Hours spent in traffic is precious time away from your family. And with Florida’s adding hundreds of people per day, it will get worse in the north unless the government plans to build roads before the new residents arrive.
Enter the First Coast Expressway currently being built by the state government. This 46-mile road will traverse Duval, Clay and St. Johns County and cross the St. Johns River over a brand new Shands Bridge. The expressway will connect I-10 to I-95 farther south, without jamming more cars into the Downtown Jacksonville area, and provide much-needed traffic relief amid the exploding growth occurring in Clay and St. Johns County. The entire project should be completed by 2030.
What a concept! Tons of people are moving here, and we planned to accommodate them. That’s how it should be done.
Our region also has much to be proud of when it comes to our K-12 schools. Nassau, Clay and St. Johns counties all recently received an A grade from the state for their school systems. The pandemic resulted in unprecedented challenges for our teachers and administrators, but not only did these three school districts survive, they thrived.
While no one should rest until every county in our region gets an A rating, it is significant that the three fastest-growing counties in the region have been able to meet the twin challenges of explosive population growth and a pandemic. Families in Nassau, Clay and St. Johns like their neighborhood schools. There’s a reason why high-quality K-12 education is the first thing that Realtors talk about when selling houses in those communities.
If you shut out the noise for a little while, you realize that there are sensible reasons why people are flocking to North Florida and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Good schools, manageable traffic, low taxes. It’s a winner.