When people take government into their own hands, government has a problem.
And more often than not, it's a problem of the government's own creation.
Case in point is the Cape Coral City Council's decision to close a popular road last year after some neighbors complained about, well, too much traffic.
The board agreed to block a portion of Southwest 28th Street by barricading a bridge along the roadway to prevent direct access to Skyline and Chiquita boulevards while the city continued to study the issue.
The theory was that traffic would be diverted off the connector road and onto one of the primary thoroughfares and property owners would be happier.
In actuality, the "temporary" blockade has accomplished nothing.
Neither the police department nor city staff have managed to come up with traffic counts to justify the closure. Both have recommended that the roadway remain open.
Specifically, studies conducted in the wake of the hasty closure showed last May that traffic numbers had not been reduced in the neighborhood; they just shifted from the east side of the bridge and picked up on the west.
That same study by city traffic engineers also showed that drivers who had been using the road to get to Skyline and Chiquita had not slowed down as a result of the city's attempt to force drivers off Southwest 28th.
The study showed, in fact, that neighborhood drivers actually had picked up speed, apparently in an attempt to make up the time required by the forced, lengthier routes.
Recent traffic counts by the police department, presented a few months ago to the Traffic Advisory Commission, continue to reveal that numbers simply do not warrant closing the street and the department has again recommended that the road not be closed.
Meanwhile, no one is happy - neighbors remain at odds, and conflict between the pro-closure and anti-closure factions has escalated to the point of confrontation.
While results may have been minimal, costs have not been.
City taxpayers have anted up nearly $1,000 per month as residents who want the road open have continued to drive around the barricades or have tossed them into the Aries Canal in overt acts of civil disobedience - and, perhaps, in direct response to council's failure to solicit their input before approving the road closure after 11 p.m. at an unnoticed council add-on in March 2008.
Re-discussion on the issue is set for Aug. 17.
It's about time.
And it's about time council re-opens Southwest 28th Street.
The city's own facts, figures and traffic policies demand that the barriers be removed, both those blocking the roadway and those standing in the way of common sense. It's time to move on.
- Breeze editorial