Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tough economic times cause indefinite construction

Note: This column appears in the 7/9 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/10 issue of the Peoria Times

I have some bad news for anyone currently waiting at a Glendale light rail stop.

You might want to catch the bus.

It was revealed last week that the proposed Glendale light rail project will be delayed by “at least two years,” which, in government-controlled construction terms translates to: 30 years.

The current economic circumstances have made building a light rail less of a priority, apparently. Still, this is a surprise, especially considering the vast popularity of the Phoenix light rail, which has experienced no problems. Unless, of course, you count accidents, the reported mistreatment of its operators, and a general state of confusion as it relates to where it goes and why you would ride it.

In fact, the Glendale delay is Phoenix’s fault, as the city is forced to wait on the construction of Phoenix’s 19th Avenue extension, which itself has been pushed back from 2012 to 2014. So while everybody waits on Phoenix, Glendale’s light rail system is also hampered by the tiny fact that no one has decided where, exactly, it is going to go.

Details, details.

Yes, it remains undecided whether the light rail will run into downtown Glendale, or towards Westgate. If the decision (to be made, ya’ know…whenever) is Westgate, then that is predicated on the extension of Interstate 10, which has also been pushed back to the year 2021. Can’t wait!

While I understand the urgency of the recession and how the budgets for certain projects have been affected –- no one needs to ride the light rail to the job they don’t have –- I cannot grasp how multi-million dollar projects are simply left in a state of flux. It would seem to me that construction generates jobs, and that it would be in the city’s best interest to complete a project that itself will be a revenue generator –- like, for example, a light rail -– as quickly as possible, instead of incurring the additional costs of letting things sit. But hey…whatever.

For me personally, my daily ride to and from work has been adversely affected by the Loop 303 extension currently moving at a snail’s pace in Peoria. For the past few months construction has been going on there, and by construction I mean that there is dirt, some trucks parked on the dirt, and traffic cones regulating everybody into one lane and making my daily commute 20 minutes longer. The pure joy of passing this construction zone each day only to see that absolutely nothing is going on cannot be described in mere words, only hand gestures.

To make matters even more enjoyable, the speed limit in this area –- and in many construction areas, such as that on Deer Valley in between 83rd and 91st Ave -- is reduced to like, three miles per hour. And if you think the police haven’t taken advantage of that, then you are indeed mistaken. One would think that the traffic ticket revenue generated from construction zone speed limits would be enough to complete the construction itself, but apparently not.

Nevertheless, should you generate enough speeding tickets while going 30 miles per hour through a construction zone to lose your driver’s license, don’t fret – the light rail is coming.

But I hope you’re not in a rush. No one else is.

2 comments:

Bill said...

The Jets used to have a receiver named Justin McCareins, and my brother and I would often complain during games that he was terrible. I'd reassure him that if we know this watching from the couch, then Jets' management definitely knows. Sure enough, after the season, McCareins was cut. The Jets aren't even that smart an organization compared to most other NFL teams, but my brother and I were not seeing anything that the Jets weren't studying themselves, with much more dilligence.

However, this theory does not apply to local government. Something that's laughably obvious to us, may not even cross these folks' minds. I really have that little confidence in government - to the point where I believe that we, who have other fields of expertise and a lot of other things going on in our lives, have better knowledge of how to handle these public projects than people whose only job is to do it right.

Also, can't you just see the greater Phoenix area in the year 2021? I picture humans being able to teleport anywhere they want, making cars no longer necessary...but 12 construction trucks are sitting alongside I-10, with the city promising us the project is now scheduled to complete by 2027.

mkenny59 said...

Couldn't agree more. I used to naively believe --based on the reasons you outlined -- that government employees, with more knowledge of what's going on than I, knew what to do. I no longer think that is the case, and construction projects seem like a good place to start.

Here in Glendale they just spent the past two months laying down nice red brick on a sidewalk that nobody uses. They did this across from the Bead Museum, which is closing down due to lack of funding. In the year 2021 Glendale residents will hover over red bricks on their jet packs and have no knowledge of the history of beads. It will be sad.