Friday's letters: Loosen gridlock, control growth, limit free speech, more

·4 min read
The roundabout under construction at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, the route between Longboat Key and downtown Sarasota, is causing gridlock, frustrating drivers.
The roundabout under construction at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, the route between Longboat Key and downtown Sarasota, is causing gridlock, frustrating drivers.

Stoplights would ease roundabout gridlock

Having recently missed a ballet, an opera and a dinner with friends in town due to a one-and-a-half-hour drive that normally takes 15 minutes from Publix on Longboat Key, I would like to not only vent my frustration, but to suggest a possible improvement to our appalling traffic gridlock.

Currently, we all have to depend on the kindness of fellow drivers in order to even enter traffic circles. And good luck with that: Some drivers actually seem to speed up to prevent you from getting into the circle.

So, what could we possibly create to make our traffic flow more smoothly for all? Something that is not dependent on a single snowbird from the Ritz-Carlton wanting to cross U.S. 41 and bringing all traffic to a screeching halt?

More: How to send a letter to the editor

One item that is already in place – wait for it – is the pedestrian crosswalk light. How novel, a traffic light to control the flow of traffic!

Seriously, if we must have roundabouts (and they actually do work well in light traffic), how about installing traffic lights before the circles that can be programmed and synchronized to fit the volume of cars in heavy traffic?

Oh, right, we had that.

Sven Mohr, Longboat Key

Pick candidates who favor rational growth

I applaud the writer of the thoughtful letter, “Once-beautiful city crowded, overbuilt,” in your Jan. 10 edition.

Most rational people would agree that we can’t continue uncontrolled growth without corresponding infrastructure improvements. Even then, there is the reality of limited space for road expansion, especially downtown and on the keys.

While it could be a creative solution to the worst of our traffic problems, I’m guessing we’re not ready for an over-the-bay highway running from Siesta Drive to 10th Street.

To the homeowners who believe they have limited input on building height and density, the problem is the audience (both city and county commissioners), not the taxpaying citizens who prefer to go about their lives without being held prisoner by traffic gridlock.

Have we forgotten that commissioners are put in office by voters, not developers? No matter how much money the special interests pump into local elections, it’s votes, not dollars that determine who serves us.

Livability is the most important issue for the majority of Sarasotans, and it is being slowly eroded by the very people who should be protecting us. We deserve candidates who support measured and rational growth. And we need to vote for them.

Elliott Himelfarb, Sarasota

Immigration policy nothing to celebrate

Now that the Democrats have finished their Jan. 6 Anniversary Kabuki Theater – which included our hapless vice president outrageously trying to equate the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol building with the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and the attacks by radical Islamists on 9/11, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presenting part of a Broadway musical – perhaps they can now set their sights on another one-year anniversary that is fast approaching.

That would be the anniversary of President Joe Biden’s disastrous open borders policy, which led to what the White House categorized as a “seasonal” increase in illegal immigrants, but that continues in record numbers.

Ron Perri, Lakewood Ranch

Restrict freedom of hate speech

Times change. Not so long ago I would have very much agreed with the writer of the letter headlined “Expose hate speech – don’t silence it” (Dec. 30). But now I am not so sure.

The group she wants to include in Sarasota County School Board discussions, Proud Boys, is a right-wing extremist group with a violent agenda. The members, all males, have ties to white supremacists and espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic and antisemitic views.

In Canada, the group is legally designated a “terrorist organization.” In the U.S., it is just called a “hate group.”

But hate speech leads to bullying, violence and hate crimes, which have been on the rise and should be of concern.

No country has more experience with hate crimes than Germany, the reason it has a law against “Volksverhetzung,” loosely translated as “incitement of hatred” and disturbing the peace, a law copied by several other European nations.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful concept, but nothing is ever unlimited. When some people’s freedom endangers the freedom and safety of others, we should act.

The FBI has called white supremacists our biggest terror threat. Should we ban their speech? No. But we should be weary of giving them an equal platform at government events.

And – for clarity and guidance – we need to officially designate them as what they are: a “terrorist organization.”

Baerbel Kavanaugh, University Park

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: How to ease gridlock at roundabouts, seek controlled growth

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