Tuesday, May 02, 2006

RTA roads plan debate in S. Tucson Wed. 5:30pm

TUCSON -- Check out a great debate on the proposed RTA transportation plan and tax this Wednesday May 3, 5:30-6:45pm.

Sponsored and moderated by the Santa Rita Park Neighborhood Association, it will be at the Sam Lena Library on S. 6th Av. in South Tucson.

Proposed widening of 22nd St. through neighborhoods south of downtown is likely to be a major topic.

Hear both pro and con arguments to help you prepare for the May 16 county-wide vote.

25 comments:

MargaretM said...

Those attending the debate may want to try to pin down RTA advocates about what they will do with 22nd Streeet widening and improvements that have been promised for several years. Yet more money is requested for a project that should have been completed with the County bond election several years ago.

And what about some neighborhood circulators on the south and southwest sides, to help residents there get to jobs, shopping, etc. (Circulator service was included in the RTA Plan for Oro Valley, Green Valley and Continental Ranch, but not for the southern and southwest residents of metropolitan Tucson. Was that decision influenced by judgments on which areas were likely to produce more voters for the RTA Plan?) Will residents in the southern and southwestern area receive their fair share of transportation funds?

MargaretM said...

Those attending the debate may want to try to pin down RTA advocates about what they will do with 22nd Streeet widening and improvements that have been promised for several years. Yet more money is requested for a project that should have been completed with the County bond election several years ago.

And what about some neighborhood circulators on the south and southwest sides, to help residents there get to jobs, shopping, etc. (Circulator service was included in the RTA Plan for Oro Valley, Green Valley and Continental Ranch, but not for the southern and southwest residents of metropolitan Tucson. Was that decision influenced by judgments on which areas were likely to produce more voters for the RTA Plan?) Will residents in the southern and southwestern area receive their fair share of transportation funds?

MargaretM said...

Those attending the debate may want to try to pin down RTA advocates about what they will do with 22nd Streeet widening and improvements that have been promised for several years. Yet more money is requested for a project that should have been completed with the County bond election several years ago.

And what about some neighborhood circulators on the south and southwest sides, to help residents there get to jobs, shopping, etc. (Circulator service was included in the RTA Plan for Oro Valley, Green Valley and Continental Ranch, but not for the southern and southwest residents of metropolitan Tucson. Was that decision influenced by judgments on which areas were likely to produce more voters for the RTA Plan?) Will residents in the southern and southwestern area receive their fair share of transportation funds?

MargaretM said...

Those attending the debate may want to try to pin down RTA advocates about what they will do with 22nd Streeet widening and improvements that have been promised for several years. Yet more money is requested for a project that should have been completed with the County bond election several years ago.

And what about some neighborhood circulators on the south and southwest sides, to help residents there get to jobs, shopping, etc. (Circulator service was included in the RTA Plan for Oro Valley, Green Valley and Continental Ranch, but not for the southern and southwest residents of metropolitan Tucson. Was that decision influenced by judgments on which areas were likely to produce more voters for the RTA Plan?) Will residents in the southern and southwestern area receive their fair share of transportation funds?

MargaretM said...

Those attending the debate may want to try to pin down RTA advocates about what they will do with 22nd Streeet widening and improvements that have been promised for several years. Yet more money is requested for a project that should have been completed with the County bond election several years ago.

And what about some neighborhood circulators on the south and southwest sides, to help residents there get to jobs, shopping, etc. (Circulator service was included in the RTA Plan for Oro Valley, Green Valley and Continental Ranch, but not for the southern and southwest residents of metropolitan Tucson. Was that decision influenced by judgments on which areas were likely to produce more voters for the RTA Plan?) Will residents in the southern and southwestern area receive their fair share of transportation funds?

MargaretM said...

Those attending the debate may want to try to pin down RTA advocates about what they will do with 22nd Streeet widening and improvements that have been promised for several years. Yet more money is requested for a project that should have been completed with the County bond election several years ago.

And what about some neighborhood circulators on the south and southwest sides, to help residents there get to jobs, shopping, etc. (Circulator service was included in the RTA Plan for Oro Valley, Green Valley and Continental Ranch, but not for the southern and southwest residents of metropolitan Tucson. Was that decision influenced by judgments on which areas were likely to produce more voters for the RTA Plan?) Will residents in the southern and southwestern area receive their fair share of transportation funds?

DRP said...

I oppose the 22nd St. widening proposal, as currently presented. It is already 5 lanes in the Santa Rita Park area, with lots of ped and bike traffic.

Kralmajales said...

I wished we could have more debate on the RTA...I applaud you for posting this, Daniel.

I have voted against it. I live in Tucson and see most of the projects to be about expanding roads and making it easier to live out of town. It benefits urban sprawl and will lead more people to drive and incur the costs of gas. That is why the vast majority of those selling this plan are big developers and car lot owners....all that is...but Steve Farley.

Steve is a good man, but I am disappointed in him and some of the environmentalists that joined this sprawl plan. They have their opinion, but most of the money goes towards roads and it appears that they were co-opted to support the plan. How you might ask? Well, there is a modern street car that will only run about 4 miles from the UA Med Center to downtown. Steve has been pushing for light rail, but this is just not enough and it is a large price to pay to get it. There is also some wildlife cooridors, some more bike lanes, and expansion of bus service. All of these are needed, but are about 1/4 of the plan. If there are cost overruns, what do you think will be cut first?

The majority of the plan is to widen Grant Rd. and 22nd street. This will harm small businesses and the neighborhoods around it that are working so so hard to become liveable, walking urban neighborhoods and centers...see the work of the Drachman Institute...on building environmentally friendly inner city neighborhoods.

Please vote no. It is hard to be against this plan because it has been pushed hard...but think about it?

Jeneiene Schaffer said...

This is one environmentalist who is voting NO to the RTA plan. Road widening is an absolute deal-breaker for me.

Steve Farley said...

It's certainly fair to vote no on something, but I don't think it is fair to mischaracterize the plan as your justification, nor to accuse people like me of being "co-opted" and talk as if there are no other progressives endorsing the plan.

Public transit is revolutionized in this plan--there is more money spent on buses ($432 million) in this plan than there was in my bus-heavy Citizens Transportation Initiative that the big money killed in November 2003 (Light Rail was only 22% of that one; buses were 40%).

We need this plan and we need it now. I haven't yet met an opponent who was dependent on transit. That's why PCIC, the Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless, the Pima Area Labor Federation, disabled groups, and other advocates for the poor are fighting so hard for its passage.

The road projects are required by law to be designed by the neighbors and small businesses through which the roads will pass. Daniel, you already got commitments for every one of the demands your neighborhood asked for as part of the 22nd widening, and you will end up with a much safer, more neighborhood friendly road to live next to if this passes. If it doesn't, they will widen it anyway in the future, by cobbling together enough money for the asphalt and not the ped crossings.

I live with my backyard on a major six-lane arterial roadway right now--Speedway. it has been improved to include continuous bike lanes and sidewalks, ped crossings every 1/4 mile, landscaping, continuous medians for safety, and contains thriving small businesses all along. Changing today's dangerous, congested Grant and 22nd into a Speedway is a vast improvement on our central city quality of life.

Voting "no" will not stop growth. If that was true, growth would have ended around 1970. Voting no will simply make us all hurt that much more, especially those less fortunate among us.

And does anyone believe that our societal response to decreasing oil supplies will be everyone using public transit and bikes? We need those options to be boosted dramatically, which this plan will do, but the majority of people will still drive in cars, powered by alternative sources of fuel, which will still need roads.

And don't believe for a moment that any other future plan is going to have more public transit, less road widenings, and a fairer distribution of projects. This is the product of four years of unprecedented community dialogue, and, yes, compromise. There is a tremendous diversity of opinion in this region, and any communitywide plan will of necessity have parts that some people will not like.

But this plan has more stuff that more people will like than any other plan seen previously or that we will see in the future. Yes, the money is backing the plan, but that was alwasy the intent--get the money to back a progressive plan so that the money won't kill it.

Look at the breadth of support at http://www.yes1and2.org/how-this-plan-helps/endorsements and see what I'm talking about. It is incredibly hard to assemble these groups who often fight each other around one plan.

We all have the right to vote no. But I believe it is irresponsible to vote no without an alternative option that can reasonably be said to pass. We need to fix our transportation system now, for the sake of all of us. This is the plan we can all agree on, right and left.

Kralmajales said...

With respect to Steve Farley for posting:

You keep arguing that this plan is all that we have to go and that it is the best and it is the only one that can pass. I really don't believe that. The RTA and the process that was created was brilliant politically, but I feel that it has sold us in Tucson out. The bus improvements and urban street car just look like a "give-away" to let the county get what it wants from us. This is an easier way into and out of Tucson. The plan is not just being attacked by some of us angry about the lack of consultation with Grant Rd. and 22nd Street (and much of the consultation that did occur came AFTER the plan had already been set in stone and posed to the voters). It is clear that those who posed this plan hoped that we wouldn't notice until it was too late...and it may be...if people don't vote against it.

Next, no one thinks growth is going to go away, but few think this plan is going to work in any meaningful way. People are voting against it for a plethora of reasons. Some think the street car is inadequate to improve transportation (we need MORE light rail...it is inadequate), some are angry that their neighborhoods will bear the brunt of the plan and that the neighborhoods get nothing for the sacrifice they make, others are angry that it is a new tax, others are angry because it is a band-aid and does not include a cross-town freeway.

It appears that people across the spectrum see this plan as unwise.

Last, Steve, I agree with you on so much, but your latest post seemed to suggest that you don't believe anymore that we can do better or that public transport will never work. It appears that you have given into the car. You supported an expansive light rail once and a network that would get people into and out of the city effectively and without so much gas.

I agree that we will have growth, but we will never have a networked highway system that will work because of the foothills. They will not take a "freeway" in their back yard. They want it in ours. This is the time to make and plan for a future with less driving. It was always too costly in the past...but now gas is so high, that I am not so sure that it is too costly any longer.

Jeneiene Schaffer said...

I say amen and well-said to the last post. I couldn't have said it better, and I mean that. Steve, I have to say you kind of dropped the idealogical and philosophical ball on this one. I understand you may want a political transportation 'victory' but I honestly don't believe you have to sell your soul (to develpers and car dealers) to achieve that.

I used to also be very low income and reliant on public trasportation. It got me where I needed to go. What was hard was being on a bike and being a pedestrian in this car-crazy town. We shouldn't make it easier to take cars every damn where.

I encourage everyone who is tracking this issue to read the book "Street Reclaiming-Creating Livable Streets and Vibrant Communities" by David Engwicht. This book embodies my vision for Tucson's transportation future.

Steve Farley said...

"It appears that people across the spectrum see this plan as unwise." --Kralmajales

And for very different reasons. The bulk of the opposition to this plan is cranky old Republican men who are against government and taxes and the environment anyway, and will vote no on anything that does not include a freeway. It will be irredeemably tragic if we progressives on the left help them get their way by increasing their numbers.

Sorry, you misread me if you think I don't believe in public transit. But I don't believe in insisting on a plan that will not pass in this regional political climate. I believe in actually accomplishing something good to give us real alternatives instead of refusing to talk to the folks who have the money and power to kill off anything truly good for the community. That's not selling your soul, that's fighting for real gains. Click's car dealer buddies think he sold his soul to us alt-modes people!

And I do believe that we can get transit ridership up to 40-50% of daily trips up from that current figure of 3%, but that will take many years and a whole lot more investment in public transit. It's absurd to say that I don't believe in transit because I don't believe it is realistic or desirable that 100% of trips will be on transit ever.

We will have cars. They will be more environmentally friendly, and we can reduce the need for trips using better urban planning, but trying to force people into cars by dropping any investment in maintaining our current system would have disastrous effects on our economy and environment, and would overwhelm our current inadequate public transit system.

And your argument about the modern streetcar being inadequate--are you really saying that we have to have it all or nothing? This is a phase one light rail, folks, and there are already progressive developers talking about privately funding phase two--serving the southside and airport-- so that we end up with a 13-mile system when it opens. But that cannot happen unless we take the first step.

And that step is much harder when central city people like Ken O'Day and others poke fun at a "$100-million trolley to Ree-oh Noo-ay-vo" using the worst of the far-right libertarian anti-transit arguments to kill it. That's sellling your soul to the car dealers right there.

If we progressives can't get together to support high-capacity electric-powered non-polluting rail transit to help us grow more compactly, reducing the pressure to sprawl, we will not be able to support the hard choices it will take to survive in the upcoming ages after oil as global warming takes effect.

It is impossible to argue that this plan does not revolutionize alt modes. It doubles bus frequency, has $70 million in new express routes, extended night and weekend hours, two new bus routes to the currently un-served SE side, neighborhood circulators, $109 million in disabled transit, 550 lane miles in bikeways, 200 miles of sidewalks, the EP&SW greenway, completion of the riverwalk pathway network, and much much more.

If this fails, the next plan, whenever it comes, will not be the plan of the progressives. It will be the freeway plan, with only enough transit to satisfy court orders. I'll be fighting that one, with a tremendous amount of regret in my heart that we had a chance to come together on something that helps everyone without destroying what we love about Tucson.

Luckily, there is still time to recognize that going to bed with Kromko and the Libertarians and their anti-government, anti-tax, anti-community, anti-environment message will cause massive regrets when you wake up in the morning. They're the same folks who fought the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. That's selling one's soul.

Kralmajales said...

Yes, Steve is right, there are Republicans against this plan...and libertarians...and others. Truth be told though, those most against it are the neighborhoods surrounding Grant and 22nd Street and the small businesses lining Grant with signs pleading for a "no" vote.

But bigger than all of that...I believe that progressive environmentalists are going to join in...not because they are anti-tax or anti-government, but because they are against the kind of goverment/big business partnership that promotes sprawl...that always has...always will...and that is asking for a $2 Billion dollars subsidy to make it happen.

Kralmajales said...

Ok...one last thing...you keep saying that the next plan will be far worse. You don't know that. Are we so weak that this is all what we can must against those with the money and power to blad this desert of ours????

Given the amount of money spent on this...and where it comes from...it appears to me that you are saying that we...together...are too weak to work on something better. That we must give into a plan...and compromise...on a plan...that has an enormous amount of money that will encourage more growth...and more sprawl. Widening Grant and 22nd street is ALL about making it easier to live farther and farther out east...and to have a road to hook into so people can live further and further Northwest...and South. No one can argue with that.

I ask this...why do those with dollars support this plan so loudly...and with so much money. Yes, there are other groups like PCIC and others...but MOST of the support is big developer. I just think they are getting a whole lot more of what they want than those of us will.

Jeneiene Schaffer said...

Steve,

With all due respect I really don't buy into your attempt to ridicule or bully me (take your pick) into siding with you by comparing those who disagree with you with 'cranky old Republicans' or libertarians--or even John Kromko whom I happen to respect. If you wish to be an effective leader you must 1)not ridicule folks who don't agree with you and 2) be able to take criticsm without taking it personally

I'm still not convinced. Widing roads and telling me that it's ok to do so because of a some pt crumbs is like asking me to accept a condemned building because it happens to have a roof, albeit a leaking one. I know you worked hard on this. Everyone knows that. But a lot of *other* progressive folks have worked even harder for a lot longer to *prevent* bigger wider roads in this town.

I'll tell you all something that other bike riders can tell you as well--even while riding in bike lanes we still get harrassed by motorheads in their cars. More bike lanes are swell, but bigger roads adds to the 'road rage' that is already prevelent in this car-crazy town.

Telling me to accept more cars is like telling me to accept global warming. Yeah, we'll have more cars alright, especially if you bend over and take it without a fight.

And, lastly, I am damn tired of 'shifty' liberals parading around like they are true progressives. The scare tactic of telling folks to take this prop or else the sky is going to fall is really kind of sad. I have faith that we are much more capable of better visions and better plans. I am willing to wait and I am willing to fight for it. I believe we're worth it.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

The universal truth of transportation planning: If you build it, they will come. In every instance documented in the U.S. of which I'm aware (and I have a master's degree in urban and regional planning, so studied this a fair bit), when wider roads were built, it simply leads to more traffic, not less. Until sustainable (however you define that) alternative modes to transportation are both made available and are actually used, wider roads are not a solution. They are in fact a problem.

J.T. Waldron said...

Mr. Farley,

I think what they mean by selling one's soul is compromising with certain "moneyed interests" that have nothing to do with public welfare. And when you lump Kromko and the Libertarians together as the only substantial part of those giving the "no vote", you are dismissing a large number of dissenting progressives that don't like the compromise.

When the Green Party considered question 1 and 2, I provided my perspective as a small business owner on Broadway that received no notice of our potential displacement. The details of this story ultimately demonstrate a problem with credibility and trust for the RTA. It's also an issue of social and economic justice.

The other potentially more devastating issue bumping heads with other greens is the mandatory expansion of 3 roads to 8 lanes wide. These sections of street to be widened are what many wise, cranky older folks recognize as the trend towards more congestion and urban sprawl. Many suspect this road expansion is precisely why developers and auto moguls are pumping money into the process of shoving this plan down our throats.

So the decision involves carefully examining the need for compromise now over the need for patience and a lot more work. Ultimately, the whole mechanism through which these plans are developed may need to be dismantled - especially when those entities not working in the public's interest can make or break a good or bad plan by throwing money around. This may not be easy. But if it's something that has to happen, so be it.

Kralmajales said...

I am heartened by the responses and discussion on this blog. I thank Steve Farley for weighing in as well. He has done a lot of public service work and he is also currently running for State Rep. against Bradley and Prezelski in one of our urban Tucson House districts (District 28 I think), so he has put himself out there to serve now and will be doing so again in the Democratic primary.

All that said, I do disagree with him on this, but that is as far as I will take it. We don't have to agree on everything in life.

With all that said, I hope that everyone here will raise these important debates in their blogs, environmental forums, and listservs as Daniel has done here. It is not too late to discuss this and to stop this plan. A more environmental friendly plan CAN come out of this. Maybe they will finally listen if we stop this one.

Steve Farley said...

None of the roads in the plan will be expanded to eight car traffic lanes in width. The max is 6 lanes.

Broadway will expanded to 6 lanes, plus two more dedicate bus lanes, just like it is along the rest of its width. This will allow us to run bus rapid transit in dedicated lanes down the center of Broadway with stations in the center like rubber-tired light rail all the way from Downtown to Houghton, in a bid to increase transit ridership among commuters who have a choice.

That is hardly car-sprawl-inducing.

And I can take plenty of criticism, Jeneiene, in fact I take it almost every night that I am in the community debating, and I have received anonymous threatening phone calls on my home phone as well on a number of occasions. It's all part of being in the public arena.

But I have the right to speak out when someone accuses me of selling my soul.

I was not attempting to ridicule or bully you by simply raising the fact that the coalition looking to kill this plan is primarily two groups of people who hate each other's politics in almost every other way.

The fact that Ken and others are cynically using right-wing anti-government, anti-transit, anti-tax arguments in their public appearances shows that they are willing to do anything to kill this plan, and unwilling to help build the consensus it will take to create any other plan in the future. This scorched-earth policy poisons the well for any other attempts at community problem-solving over water, sprawl, public health, education, and all our other problems because it spits on the idea that we can come together with our government and create something good.

I'm glad you have faith that there will be better plans, but it will take more than that. It will take hard work, and, yes, compromise with people we might not agree with. Because we do not live in a monoculture where everyone believes the same thing, and there is any one truth.

Look at the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Not only does it preserve open space, it defines where developers can develop, too. They got what they wanted, and so did we environmentalists. Were you opposed to that plan because the developers supported it?

This transportation plan is a result of such a process as the one you say you are waiting for, and as such, deserves all of our support. Then we can work to make the next plan even better to build on our successes.

I hope in your review of my previous comments you can see that I did not in any case bully or ridicule you or call you names, I simply disagreed and made my case. I have a huge amount of respect for you and your ideas. You have every right to disagree with me, but not to tell me that I am a shifty liberal faux-progressive who has sold his soul because I believe in working with people I disagree with for a result that benefits us all.

Steve Farley said...

Simmons, if you review those studies of induced traffic that you refer to, you will discover that in almost every case they involve freeways, not arterial roadways. That's why I oppose freeways.

Steve Farley said...

And, J.T., please talk to the membership of PCIC (the Pima County Interfaith Council) and the Tucson Federation of the Blind to get a different view of how this plan advances the social justice agenda.

And talk to Carolyn Campbell and the Sky Island Alliance to get a different view of how this plan advances the environmental agenda.

And please tell me how more cars emitting more pollution while idling at more congested intersections as our public transit system continues its decay helps advance anyone's environmental or social agenda.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

This is a good debate, and one in fact I've pointed my Civano neighbors (and their friends) to. I think Steve's points about building consensus are not to be ignored: it is an agonizingly difficult job, especially with as wide a spectrum of residents as we have in Tucson (as we have in any culturally, politically, and economically diverse metro area such as ours, of course). A remaining question---which cannot yet fully be answered---is if the RTA plan is adopted, how we can learn and build from it, and do so quickly, simultaneously even. The plan has a long implementation period, and in doing so does it squeeze out the opportunity for more progressive and environmental (read: less "sprawly") solutions during the same period? It would appear---pending creative, outside forces---to at least cut off the funding for those other, potential solutions.

Despite the (at least) surface-level concerns I have with the "big money" supporters, in the end they too are after quality of life, because people won't so happily buy new cars nor new homes if congestion, air quality, and access to amenities is poor. The challenge there, however, is in the differing definitions of quality of life. And that too is where the base ideological differences come in, differences that realistically cannot be resolved.

To conclude: This one's tough! but so also will every other proposed plan be tough.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Farley,

Thanks for providing some insight concerning the number of lanes for expansion. Could you please clarify the number of total car and noncar lanes for the roads slated for expansion? We're having trouble finding this (or possibly interpreting this) in written sources for the RTA plan.

Also, what assurances could you provide to people concerned about whether all parties fulfill the promises of the plan without later subverting the process.

Kralmajales said...

Ok...I just got the CAVE piece Steve. While I disagree with you on the RTA, I have considered voting for you in the LD28 race. I have considered you to be active, generally constructive, and worthy of our legislature. However, I want to know now if you back that piece or had anything to do with it. It was so offensive. I want to know if you saw it and got a hearty little chuckle as you read it. I just want you to know that I think the ad was disgusting and far far below the belt. If you had anything to do with it, I am urging everyone I know in LD 28 to vote against you.