Letter to Blueprint Board from ATN;;

Re:  Blueprint Board Review of Welaunee Boulevard Extension Preliminary and Engineering Study on May 27

After the adoption of the Welanuee Master Plan, the Alliance of Tallahassee Neighborhoods recommended strategies for how the City and County Commissions could avoid the intense frustration experienced by members of the public. Today, just five months after ATN presented those recommendations in a column in the Tallahassee Democrat, we see the Blueprint Interagency Board of Directors, are poised to make the same serious mistakes with the Welaunee Boulevard Extension Study.

Just as the Welanuee Master Plan made major assumptions regarding demand for land uses without data and analysis, the Welaunee Boulevard study process rejected viable road options before all the data and analysis required by a Preliminary Engineering and Design Study was completed.  And just as citizens were frustrated by many meetings but little meaningful dialogue between citizens and local government on the Welaunee Master Plan, the Blueprint Board is preparing to adopt the Study less than 24 hours after the public will have the opportunity to comment on major elements of the Study.  Unfortunately, there has been a pattern of citizens receiving large packets of complex materials only days prior to Blueprint meetings, leaving no time for citizens to effectively evaluate and provide comments and propose alternatives to commissioners.

Lack of data and analysis:  Four road corridors were presented in a November 2019 traffic analysis component of the Study.  Three options extend north from the current terminus of Welaunee Boulevard through either all or a portion of the Welaunee Master Plan property.   Option 4 merely connects the current segment of Welaunee Boulevard to Thornton Road.  This report shows negligible traffic differences between the recommended option (Option 1, a six-mile road that extends from the current Welaunee Boulevard terminus to Roberts Road at a cost of $70 million) and Option 4, a two-mile road that extends from the current Welaunee Boulevard terminus to Thornton Road.[1] 

ATN is aware that there was strong disagreement among northside residents between options that extended Welaunee Boulevard from its current terminus to Shamrock Road, or further north to Roberts Road and that the Blueprint Board considered Option 1 to be the best alternative from this perspective.  ATN is not commented on the Board’s findings regarding this particular issue.  We are concerned, however, that the Blueprint Board decided on a road corridor prior to a full analysis of the four options proposed by the consultant.  As a result, the other three options were excluded from the subsequent analysis related to construction costs and cultural, environmental and land use impacts. 

Lack of meaningful public input:  Two major reports: an economic impact analysis and an environmental impact report (both labeled draft) were only made available this month study.  Even though only Option 1 was addressed in these reports, there is significant new information, including the methodology for estimating the potential economic impact of the road project.  Yet, the public meeting to comment on these reports is being held less than 24 hours before the Blueprint Board is being asked to approve the entire Study.

The Alliance of Tallahassee Neighborhoods urges the Blueprint Board to avoid the mistakes of the past.  At the May 27 Blueprint meeting, we ask that the Board vote to not transmit the Study to the Florida Department of Transportation and to direct staff to complete a full evaluation of the financial, environmental, and land use costs and benefits of Option 4 before making a final decision selecting a preferred option.

Sincerely,

Carrie Litherland

Chair

Alliance of Tallahassee Neighborhoods


[1] See Appendix I, Table 5.  No cost projections were provided for any option other than Option 1.  

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