Saturday, December 16, 2006

LA-style freeway plans & sprawl will choke Arizona

TUCSON -- Arizona is making some big transportation mistakes, worsening global warming, urban sprawl, and air pollution with massive new road building proposals. As a downtown dwelling dad of a 4 year old, I'm very concerned, and you should be too.

Gov. Napolitano
's Transportation Director in Phoenix, Victor Mendez, following the failed SoCal freeway model, is pushing new freeways all over Southern Arizona. So uncreative, and absurdly expensive and disrupting.

Until recently, freeway mania was focused on Maricopa County, and it still is, but now metro Tucson, Yuma, and Pinal County are targeted as well.

Developers, road builders, bureaucrats, and other profiteers gathered Thursday in Tucson at I-10 and 22nd St. to cheer the expansion of I-10 from 6 to 8 lanes. This hugely expensive project won't do much to improve traffic, which really isn't that bad on I-10 in Tucson, but it will further divide downtown and the west side, and force most of the local freeway traffic on to Tucson streets and neighborhoods for at least 3.5 years while the new lanes are built. Then the new lanes will fill up with traffic.

Now, former big development attorney Si Schorr, on behalf of RTA, is pushing a Tucson bypass route, supposedly for trucks. His current proposal would run a new freeway north of Tucson along the San Pedro River in a wild area between the Sky Island Santa Catalina and Galiuro Mountains.

Schorr is no dummy. He knows development follows road projects, and he and his buddies like a lot of development. The Tucson huge loop bypass is at least partly for development, make no mistake about it.

Global warming is upon us like a speeding train. Metro Phoenix has bad air alerts weekly, and Tucson's air quality is declining rapidly. More freeways, pavement, and associated urban sprawl will only make it worse.

The only way to ensure future quality of life in Tucson is creating more options for people to get out of their cars, or at least not drive alone so much. We are smart enough to do this.

We cannot build our way out of congestion, especially when we keep approving more development that adds to it, but we can destroy a lot of desert, foul the air, and wreck neighborhoods by trying.

If these freeways must be built, and I say they must not, shouldn't developers be paying for these roads which open huge new areas to their crappy subdivisions and strip malls? Yes, they should. But instead we all pay so millions more can come to Arizona to drain our water supply, pollute the air, pave our deserts, and wreck our quality of life.

LA-style freeways don't work, just try to drive in LA, but that isn't stopping the greedheads in government or industry from building these colossal boondoggles.

Growth for the sake of growth is what cancer cells do. The out-of-control freeway plans for Arizona are a cancer that will doom southern Arizona to eventual SoCal style gridlock, thick smog, and low quality of life. One distant slight positive is oversized roads will make great bikeways when all the oil is gone, if we survive.

Gov. Napolitano has so far has done little to really challenge Arizona's unsustainable growth, allowing Mendez, and State Lands Commissioner Mark Winkelman to run wild serving big money sprawl development interests.

Will the popular Gov. Janet really take on the deadly, unsustainable sprawl machine? It is no small task or political risk. But if not now, when? We need big land, water, energy and transportation reform soon.

When all the water is gone, the deserts are paved, the temps are even more scorching, and the air is sickening, then we will all learn that we cannot drink, eat, or breathe cars, super freeways, or money.

But by then it may be too late to save us. For the sake of all of us and all that is good in the world, I hope it doesn't come to that. We are smart people and we can live cleaner.


Anonymous said...

Start a petition, I'll sign it so will others, the blog world is pretty big.

laura said...

OOOhhh man...... do I hear that. We here in NJ are so sick of this very crap. I feel for ya. I drove by an area just today... that I hadn't in a while. They are building yet MORE f-ing uglyass mcmansions. Like at least in AZ they build the damn roads first.. but either way.... it's bad... really bad. Way too many people. Why can't people recycle houses?

Anonymous said...

laura, we cannot recycle houses because they are (purposely) not built to last; and we all live too large (myself included)

Jeneiene said...

I agree with this post, and yet I can't reconcile with the fact that you voted 'yes' on Tucson's Regional Transportation Plan to widen and build yet more roads within Tucson's urban core. You and I have had this disagree for long time, and I still don't get it. I voted 'No' on the RTA plan, and feel badly for the folks on Grant Road and for my family who lives a block away from 22nd--one of the widening projects.

Daniel, with all due respect, you can't really be believed on this issue. Your heart is in the right place, but votes against building more and wider roads are what really counts.

DRP said...

My commentary here is about freeways, which are not included in the RTA plan, and I voted against the RTA sales tax hike, preferring instead a gas or other consumption tax.

More fair funding for roads would reduce widening and new road construction.

Anonymous said...

warm up the couch big d, there is trouble brewing in the patterson household.... I think J is absolutely right on this btw.... you have waffled a little on this issue.

Anonymous said...

How rediculous! As long as people keep popping out babies the population will grow and grow. No way to stop that. And with population growth comes the need for wider freeways. Stop and go traffic causes way more pollution than traffic driving at normal speeds.

shrimplate said...

At peak oil we experience peak build-out. Give it a few years. The highways will be empty when gas hits $15 per gallon.

The giant Saudi Ghawar oil fields are beginning to show obvious signs of decline, just as predicted. As oil supplies become depleted our freeway systems will come to resemble the canals of Mars.