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Discussions about costly infrastructure needs, such as improving the road network, are never easy. 

The need for improvement is plainly obvious. The challenge, however, is in establishing priorities, reconciling differing opinions and figuring out how to pay for the improvements.

Barb Girtman

Doing nothing to address our infrastructure needs is an option — but not a good one. And so, despite the challenges, these discussions must take place. And the public must be a part of the conversation. And that’s exactly what we’re doing at the county.

The county is in the beginning stages of updating our five-year road plan. This is done periodically to match road needs with available funding. 

And, one of the first things we want to do is hear from you. To do that, meetings will be scheduled soon in all four quadrants of the county to solicit the public’s input regarding transportation plans. 

The quadrants coincide with the county’s collection of impact fees, a major source of funding along with gas taxes for road improvements.

From DeLand north to the county line is in Zone 4. Some of the major thoroughfare projects scheduled in our zone include widening a section of Orange Camp Road from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway to Interstate 4, which is under construction now; extending Beresford Avenue and Blue Lake Avenue; and adding paved shoulders to Old New York Avenue from State Road 44 to Shell Road. 

A possible future project also could be a study of widening another section of Orange Camp Road, from South U.S. Highway 17-92 to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway. 

There also will be discussions between the county and the Florida Department of Transportation regarding possible improvements to U.S. Highway 17.

In my view, these are all worthy projects. But, again, the issue is what we can afford and how we pay for it. One possibility is floating a bond to fund needed road projects. That way, the money would be available upfront. The debt would be repaid from the collection of either impact fees on new development or gasoline taxes.

These are just a few of the ideas that are currently being discussed. But you might have other ideas — better ideas. And that’s why we need to hear from you. 

The efficiency of our transportation network not only helps us get around, it’s also a measure of our quality of life. For that reason, decisions about improving our road network really need to be collaborative and include the entire community. That’s what I think.

More importantly, what do you think?

— Girtman, who lives in DeLand, represents District 1 on the Volusia County Council.

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