Monday, January 22, 2007

The Opposite View: Growth is Our National Religion

Following up on Saturday's post on the importance of geographic differences, here's an unwitting rebuttal, representing the side of unfettered growth, written by the former mayor of San Antonio, now head of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (in other words, the ones behind the sleazy push for toll roads the State Highway Department seems to want so much) (Chaos's commentary appears along with it):

There has been much discussion throughout the community about growth, the need for enhancing our transportation system, toll roads and the role of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority. (Yeah, a lot of people around here don't like the idea of toll roads; wonder why..)

The Alamo RMA was created to work with the community to explore and develop mobility solutions to help keep our region moving forward in the face of continued growth. We are making every effort to ensure that local voices throughout the community are heard in the discussions, evaluations and debate — not only on tolled lanes, but on various other transportation options and improvements. (Those voices are heard, all right, and then they're ignored. And the 'other options'? They don't exist.)

We are here to listen. We are here to work with our partner agencies and, most important, to work with our community to find solutions to today's transportation problems. We need to face the reality that we have seen a dramatic increase in population and a resulting surge in congested roads and highways. (Hmm...increased population and decreased quality of life? Ever heard of that little correlation?)

I wish there were a quick fix. I wish we could expand funding sources for highway construction and maintenance. I wish we could build projects quicker. I wish we didn't have to spend increasing and countless hours each week looking at the car stopped in front of us on our highways and interstates. (Chaos wishes the city wasn't run by delusional pro-growth hacks like this one, who seems to think we can build our way out of an unsustainable lifestyle).

During the next 25 years, an estimated 1 million new residents will be moving into this region. Businesses are moving to San Antonio, bringing with them higher-paying jobs and more opportunities for our city to grow. (Ok, this is the city that wants to rival India for call centers? A million more residents? How many more Mountains of Shame does one community need? And why is growth considered good? A cancer cell is the only entity that enjoys unlimited growth).

More and more residents are looking for new ways to travel throughout the city to ensure quality of life as we work and enjoy all that is San Antonio. Unless something is done soon, we won't be in the position to enjoy the unprecedented growth and prosperity. (Chaos supposes that 'new ways' to travel will include sitting in ever longer traffic jams, because building more freeways will guarantee it. The only people who 'enjoy' the increased growth and prosperity are those who run things...the rest just put up with the mess).

Accelerating transportation projects makes good economic sense. It is important to realize that we can buy more today than we can buy tomorrow in terms of highway project costs. (And we could surely buy a whole lot more than that 20 years ago, so we should have paved over the entire area back then, right?).

There is no silver bullet to solving congestion and no single funding method to address our growing transportation needs. We need new ways to finance, build and maintain roadways. (Ever hear the one about how building new freeways just increases the traffic? Ever been to California?)

I think we all agree that we need a balanced approach to meet these challenges. We need integrated road, rail and bus systems to keep a major metropolitan area like San Antonio moving forward. (This is just simply a lie. No such things exist here, and no plans to make them so. 85% of residents get to work in a single car.)

By having a balanced approach to meet our needs and by considering a variety of funding solutions — from gas tax to tolling — we can keep our community moving forward. (Does 'moving forward' stop when we hit the brick wall of finite resources? How much growth is enough? When does it stop?)

At the Alamo RMA, we are laying the groundwork to help address this coming growth, which also addresses the congestion we see today. (By building more freeways).

We need to be visionary. While we debate change, we ask for your help in embracing new ideas and concepts. We ask for you to be open to finding innovative approaches to transportation and congestion relief. (Toll roads are the only option, despite what anybody says. 'Not driving as much' is never even going to be mentioned.)

In the coming months, we will provide opportunities to hear your input through public meetings and open houses, and we look forward to a continued dialogue. (And then we'll just do what we said we would at the beginning).

Together, we can create roadways that are built years and decades sooner, which will cover their own maintenance, and allow limited state and local funds to be spent on other projects to keep our community moving. (The reason there are no state funds for highways is because the Lege spent all the proceeds from the gas tax on other stuff).

The Alamo RMA, contrary to some assertions, is not simply a "tolling authority." Toll revenue, while controversial — and a stark challenge to the status quo — is an important element into the funding discussions. Yes, we are looking at toll financing as an option to help build roadways. No, that is not all we are about. (Chaos is willing to suspend some disbelief here and would ask the writer to prove it by coming up with a plan for dedicated bike lanes, stopping suburban sprawl, and some light rail, instead of highways).

We are committed to finding ways to bring relief to our community, to helping finish needed projects and to listening and respecting the voices of our community. (When you're in a hole, perhaps it's best to stop digging. What does Peak Oil have to do with highways? Think about it).

At the end of the day, our mission is a simple one — to move people faster, to find new solutions we haven't tried yet, to make use of every tool and resource and to ensure that we solve the problems of today now instead of leaving a burden for future generations. (How about the 'burden' of a planet with species and habitat destruction, polluted water, soil, and air, and disastrous climate change? You might want to address these before mouthing pious platitudes).

1 comment:

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