EDITORíS DESK: Board takes us for an (alternative) ride
Let's picture ourselves as members of a city advisory board on transportation. An item on our meeting agenda is a presentation from engineers about a state highway
expansion in a part of town with old, established neighborhoods and many family-owned businesses.
We listen carefully, perhaps taking notes on the things we hear and jotting questions beside them. Let's see - a widening from four to six lanes for about four miles, plus interchanges at two currently at-grade intersections... How many properties must be purchased and where? And you say this work will be phased in over numerous years, Mr. Engineer? How will you ease the lengthy impacts on the neighborhoods and businesses?
Next, our civic-minded eyes absorb a soothing aspect - a greenway/open space element that takes advantage of the creek paralleling the highway. We say to the engineers, "This looks nice, but how long will people have to wait till all the roadwork is done? And by the way, it's not clear if state/federal funding will be available for this greenery and such. How will it be paid for?"
And so on. As you probably figured out, there really was such a meeting and the project was the proposed Highway 24 expansion. What you probably didn't know (unless you've already read the story starting on Page 1) is that the entity was the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB), and guess what, its members didn't ask questions even remotely like the ones posed here. No, they wanted to know why there weren't any bus stops or bike lanes. Bus stops on an expressway when nearby Colorado Avenue already has a line? And bicylists navigating freeway-style interchanges?... when a paved Midland Trail is designed to be next to it, with no at-grade crossings? I have to wonder what these people were thinking. Did they not care that adding such extras could force the new highway into an even broader footprint? Or did they care only about pushing an alternative-transportation agenda? My questions to them.