The 800lbs. central Floridian gorilla has entered the room in the form of a gigantic make works project which will re-shape the entire I-4 corridor through the main thoroughfares of Metro Orlando and its core. This concrete splendor, or rather, the great flat wall of Florida (Great Wall of China redux) is an infrastructure project aimed at reducing the heavy congestion which costs hundreds of millions a year to the city's flow. This flow being ultimately one of traffic which leads then to the flow of commerce as well. Call it a metaphorical financial funnel that bottlenecks what would otherwise be an uninterrupted stream of economic activity.
Ergo, this monstrosity will hypothetically help Orlando's ranking as the 19th most heavily congested city in the nation go down a few places. The cost of all of this, a forecasted 2 Billion dollars. This rather obese municipal bill being footed by the FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation; i.e., taxpayers) in conjunction with the FHA (Federal Highway Administration; i.e., taxpayers) will include 56 new bridges, 68 replacements, 13 modifications, 15 major exchanges, and 1 new pedestrian crossing in a span of 21.11 miles.
While impressive in scope and size, this inflated phallic metaphor of a project, is nevertheless a government boondoggle. Orlando's version of the 'Hoover Dam.' Frederic Bastiat's famous essay titled 'That which is seen, and that which is not seen' explains this quite simply.
What is heir apparent to most conventional spectators is that the project will indeed improve the life of Orlandoans, will create new jobs, and potentially revitalize areas surrounding this to-be-improved corridor of I-4. However, what is not entirely known is the future. Since current economic forecasting makes astrology look like a certain science, whatever projected benefits listed may not come to fruition. After all, there are no guarantees in anything.
Moreover, the amount of resources taken from the private sector to be re-directed to this immense public sector vacuum will create a shortage of available hands for any other true demand oriented projects. Funds that could otherwise be reallocated to the local private sector to voluntarily decide on investments based upon business acumen and local experience with regard to return is sequestered temporarily (perhaps indefinitely?) and held up in this blackhol--uhm, project. Furthermore, it is commonly known that any public sector endeavor usually ends up costing much more than the original estimates. This also places further concern on the feasibility regarding the completion and result of such a long lead time project.
This undertaking runs concomitantly with SunRail; another local government initiative to revitalize the town and provide for better public transportation in an otherwise car-oriented city (original municipal planning need not apply of course). Together, these two projects will combine to suck a lot of already dried up funds in the local economy. Do not get lost in the current illusion that things are coming back to 'normal' courtesy of never ending 'quantitative easing(s)' to infinity and beyond by uncle Ben. This again will turn out to be another temporary minor boom resulting in a bust as all previous ones.
It is hard not to get caught up as a member of the local community in the grandiosity of all of this. As a local resident, one wants to see the city shine and become a better version of itself in order to attract more business and people, thus enhancing opportunities for all. However, pragmatic judgment must reign supreme in the nebulous nature of feelings.
Therefore, to return to the original purpose, what is seen is that many jobs will be created, roads will be widened, and the final result will be a tangible product. However, what is not seen is how many other jobs (savings, opportunities, etc.) would have otherwise been created had these funds, capital goods, and resources not been diverted to this public work? How much more of it would not have been available sans such an undertaking? Further, should not the view of demand be considered as well? Absent government monopoly of modes of transportation, wouldn't the need of consumers dictate the necessity of such a project? If there was true demand for these types of products, would the market not already have presented solutions to these problems? I submit that it would have. Then one can only be left to ponder if in the end, these ventures will truly pay off without such real market based (oriented) mechanisms. Or will they be under utilized by residents and consumers? Ergo, leaving the taxpayers to foot the maintenance fees and bills with increased confiscation through higher local taxes or the city will have no option but to sell more bonds (paper) to finance operations.
I'll leave these questions and thoughts to the consideration of the reader. In the meantime, please enjoy the 80s like vibe of the project video posted to youtube: