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Mazurkiewicz named to transportation commission; Crist selected former Cape mayor

By Staff | Apr 4, 2008

Former Cape Coral mayor and Metropolitan Planning Organization member Joe Mazurkiewicz will be tackling statewide transportation issues as Gov. Charlie Crist appointed him to the Florida Transportation Commission on Wednesday.

“I’m extremely honored that the governor accepted my application and thought I could contribute to the statewide transportation issues,” Mazurkiewicz said in a Thursday phone interview. “I hope my background as an elected official and someone who has been involved in the MPO becomes an asset to the commission.”

The Transportation Commission, which meets monthly, reviews policies, makes recommendations to the state lawmaking bodies and serves as an oversight body for the Florida Department of Transportation. Mazurkiewicz, who now runs a Cape consulting firm, plans on watching for policy issues that could enhance Southwest Florida’s chances of garnering attention from the state and federal government and is paying close attention to the Interstate 75 corridor situation.

While he believes that the state was right to create the Southwest Florida Expressway Authority, Mazurkiewicz said the organization needs to look at other options to fund improvements in that corridor and he is not completely sold on the idea of tolling additional lanes.

While on the commission, the former Cape mayor said he is also going to promote discussion about changing comprehensive planning across the state. Mazurkiewicz argued that the state’s plan was originally crafted to prevent urban sprawl but has only succeeded in promoting suburban sprawl, which makes mass transportation difficult to implement.

“I hope to raise the issue between land use and transportation, and the necessity to promote dense populations in specific areas within the state to make mass transit a viable option,” he said. “There’s a need to look at the relationship between allowable densities in comprehensive planning and their ability to support mass transit.”

But personal transportation is not the only aspect the commission looks at. Mazurkiewicz wants to try and free up valuable waterfront land that serves as intermodal shipping nodes in cities like Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville.

While he has no firm policy suggestions, Mazurkiewicz said that the state could look at creating major inland hubs where freight could transfer from rail, truck and air to a different mode of transportation. Coming up with a solution to the state’s commercial and industrial shipping concerns requires a strong background in land use planning and Mazurkiewicz hopes he will fit right in in that regard.

The former mayor replaces fellow Cape economic and real estate consultant Janet Watermeier.