Originally posted in BrowardBeat.com
This is the time of year when many county government elected officials throughout the state shudder and hold our collective breath. Why? The Florida Legislature is due to gavel into session on March 3, 2015. Legislators are notorious for their attempts to run local government from Tallahassee. I know, I served in the House of Representatives for eight years. We were always asked to jump into local government issues where we had little knowledge and little expertise.
This year will apparently be no exception and has, in fact, started earlier than usual. State Senator Jeremy Ring and others have decided that they will once again file a bill to allow cities to withdraw from the coordinated county run traffic light synchronization plans. Senator Ring, who has tried this in the past, is well aware that state law already allows cities to opt out.
In Broward, our municipalities have wisely chosen to allow Broward County to continue to operate the program and we work together with them to help alleviate the ever- increasing issue of local traffic congestion. The Senator and the Broward Legislative Delegation have been briefed countless times on the program and its progress. Our county staff has explained the law in detail to the Senator and to the Delegation staff in Tallahassee and here in Broward.
Currently, our cities and the County have inter-local agreements for many services and traffic synchronization is one of them. Any city that wants out just needs to let the County know they plan to cancel that particular inter-local agreement and it’s on its way to being done.
The municipalities know that if they decide to do traffic light synchronization on their own, not only would it cost each city millions of dollars for equipment, staffing and studies, but there would be a serious traffic nightmare for anyone who drives across any municipal boundary which most of us do every day. Separate municipal systems would result in signal coordination inconsistencies. Those inconsistencies will disrupt and degrade a coordinated traffic network.
The existing traffic signal system also serves as a backbone for other important county services, such as fire-rescue signal pre-emption, ensuring the effective and efficient operation of these services for all county residents.
Broward County continues to make progress in our efforts to coordinate traffic signals through our Green Lights Program. To date, over 55 corridors and 1,100 intersections across the county have been retimed. Signal coordination is a continuous ongoing process and the county and cities in coordination are getting there.
So thanks but no thanks, Senator Ring. We’ve got this.
Stacy Ritter has been a county commissioner representing District 3 in Northwest Broward since 2006. Her district covers Coral Springs, Tamarac, Parkland and parts of North Lauderdale.