What Do You Do When Your Artery Is Clogged?

Does anyone know how much gasoline is used sitting in traffic waiting to get through the City of Crestview? That question can be asked at any time of any day, but certainly after three o’clock in the afternoon and until seven o’clock or so on Friday afternoon. When that answer is added to the value of hours wasted in stalled traffic, most of us could live very well on those numbers.

What does that observation have to do with real estate? Everything. We have known for thirty years that we had to build a by-pass artery around that City. There are those who say that a by-pass road is bad for retail business and the Chamber of Commerce. I disagree completely.

I own retail and service businesses on John Sims Parkway. Neither has ever benefited by traffic trying to get from Nashville to Destin, but we are served everyday by local people trying to get to local places. Through traffic that jams up the highway is not a blessing, it’s a curse.

With any luck Niceville will have its road around the City, apparently paid by tolls.

While I believe Crestview probably needs its by-pass more than Niceville, I never want one community to compare its need to another, since all of us are important. But assuming we were keeping score, how many people remember when the rest of Okaloosa County, including north – county, allowed its credit to be pledged for construction of the Mid-Bay Bridge. That investment paid dividends only the most imaginative of us foresaw. I am at the point at which I want to say to anyone interested in being a County Commissioner, a City Councilman, a State Representative, or Senator, “will you pledge to make four lane arteries around Crestview your priority while you serve.” I really don’t care who gets credited with the idea, I don’t care whom they name it after, and I almost don’t care how it’s paid for. That road needs to be built tomorrow.

It is not enough to say “the State won’t pay for it” or “the Federal Government won’t pay for it”. The County Comprehensive Plan needs to right now, today, show its location, so that additional building permits aren’t granted that make the roads impossible, or impossibly expensive. The plans need to be on the table and ready to build, today.

The savings in gasoline and time over the next fifty years (assuming we look no further than that) seem to far outweigh the cost of building a by-pass road. But even if they don’t, when those benefits are added to the certain return in a stronger job market, more chances for economic development, and sheer convenience, these roads are a no-brainer.

Crestview is not Atlanta. But planning and building worked in Atlanta on a bigger scale. It will work in and around Crestview, and it will work elsewhere, if we have the courage to believe it can be done.

I want to hear commitments from politicians who believe that their time in public office will have been wasted if they serve without this project, and others, underway. I want some public servants with a passion about something other than getting elected.

The debts we run up and hand to our children to pander to today’s lifestyle are not fair. But our failure to invest for their future is more than a missed opportunity; it’s also unfair.

Here’s my offer: I will personally sponsor dinner for every official, elected or otherwise, who will get together in the same room to pledge their understanding of the priority of this problem. I will name the evening after the public official with the courage to call the meeting.

Mike Chesser, Chesser and Barr, 1201 Eglin Parkway, Shalimar, FL 32579