HALLANDALE BEACH - By Mayor Joy Cooper - Transportation is a major topic in Hallandale Beach - This past Monday, I hosted a transportation summit along with the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Even though it was early morning, there was a good turnout. The major goal of the summit was to discuss our city and what plans we have moving forward to address traffic congestion and transportation.
I started out with a very brief history of the first traffic signal in 1865, the first traffic system in 1910 and the first patented three-way signal by Garret, an African-American inventor in 1923. The brief history showed that traffic is not something new, as a matter of fact as far back as the Roman Empire, planners were organizing a roadway system.
I then reviewed our traffic plan from 2008 that included over $80 million dollars in improvements. The new Basis of Design Report and our mobility study is currently underway. When added up, the traffic and road improvements are well over $200 million dollars. Obviously, we cannot do it on our own, our major roads are controlled by Broward County.
Commissioner Beam Furr shared with us the county’s perspective, his staff discussed bus service and traffic signalization. Over the past two years, the County has connected its network through a new system. Our readers may recall the “Go Green” initiative. This was a replacement of all signal systems with a direct link to their network. They are still working on implementing automated signalization. They continue to provide bus services, transportation, disadvantage service and support local mini busses.
The MPO planning agency shared that there is a back log of over a billion dollars in needs within the transportation and transit infrastructure plans. With the continued reduction in gas taxes and shared reviews, combined with dwindling federal help, there is a critical need to find new revenues.
I am chairing the Penny Surtax Taskforce for the MPO. We have been working with the county and all of the stakeholders to negotiate the possibility of placing a referendum on the ballot in November. Currently, the proposal would provide for a 50 – 50 split of the penny. 50% would go directly to the county and the other 50% would be split, with 25% going directly to the cities and the other 25% would be put in a County Transportation Fund that would be distributed according to projects.
It has been recommended that the Transportation Fund would be a separate trust managed by appointed professionals that would include engineers, accountants, auditors, traffic managers, planners and others. They could have evaluated all applications that are submitted by individual cities or joint projects. The Trust board would also monitor and audit all funds and projects to ensure they were in line with the goals of the surtax.
Broward County has the ability to place a penny surtax on the ballot, as it has done in the past without the support of the cities. The last time, it failed due to the lack of partnership and a concern over governance. As recently as Tuesday, the county was already balking about the compromise plan. Next week, they will be conducting a workshop for this issue. I am still optimistic that we can come together on this issue and put parochialism and control aside for the greater good of our county.
This past Tuesday, I had a chance to attend a very important briefing on the Zika emergency that was held at the Health Department. This is a real threat on pregnant mothers and those that are trying to get pregnant. The virus itself is not deadly, It however can be transmitted sexually and they must be sure that their partner is not infected.
1 in 5 Individuals that are bit by a mosquito carrying the virus show symptoms. This is what is very daunting. The best treatment is rest fluid and anything but aspirin. The most important thing is preventing bites to begin with.
It is critically important to rid your yard and home of standing water. If you know of a pool that is not being maintained, please report it. Everyone including children and pregnant mothers are being recommended to use bug spray with DET. You also should make sure that you have screens on your windows and doors, if you do not keep them shut.
Remember, there is a test but no vaccine. The flu like symptoms last from 10 days to two weeks, in which time you can become infected through sexual contact, however, the virus is not spread by body contact.
The County Mosquito Control is spraying. You may not see them as they do fogging between 2-8 am. You can also place what are called mosquito donuts out in standing water to prevent larva. For more information, you can visit: www.cdc.gov for more detailed information.
As always, feel free to contact me anytime by cell/text at: (954) 632-5700 with your questions, concerns and ideas for our community. I can also be reached at my office number at: (954) 457-1318. You can also e-mail me at: Joy@mayorjoycooper.com. Or: Jcooper@cohb.org.