Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Urged to Ease into Transportation Funds; Mobility Fee Could Help Decrease Congestion or Improve Transit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Urged to Ease into Transportation Funds; Mobility Fee Could Help Decrease Congestion or Improve Transit

Article excerpt

Byline: BRANDON LARRABEE

TALLAHASSEE - Developers and local governments are urging lawmakers to proceed carefully as they consider new ways of funding transportation needs in large urban counties like Duval.

The state is studying a "mobility fee" as part of a major overhaul of growth-management laws approved by the Legislature this year. The measure repealed, in counties like Duval, state rules requiring developers whose projects would overload local roads to pay impact fees to upgrade those roads.

Under the plans being considered, all developers would instead pay a mobility fee to help pay for transportation needs expected to be caused by development.

The mobility fee would be similar to impact fees, though the aim is to more fairly distribute the costs across developments. Previously, developers who put a certain road over its capacity could be forced to shoulder the entire cost of upgrading the road - even if previous developments had also increased the strain.

Also, the mobility fee could be used by local governments to decrease congestion or improve transportation and transit elsewhere.

"Go slow," said attorney David Powell of Hopping, Green and Sams, a law firm whose clients include developers, at meeting of two legislative committees that will likely shape any laws about the fees. "Let's all understand what we're getting into."

It's not clear how much control state lawmakers will try to assume over the size and structure of the mobility fee. The Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Transportation are set to submit a report to the Legislature in December that will include recommendations for legislation governing the fees.

Some local governments have already begun planning for the mobility fee.

Under a plan being developed for Jacksonville, developers would pay varying amounts based on how close their properties were to the city center, essentially increasing the fee for those whose developments would put the most strain on local roads and transit systems. …

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