Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mike Krusee Switches His Agenda To Rail

Looks like the biggest thing to come out of yesterday's SH 130 Corridor Summit was Rep. Mike Krusee's call for "..a 2006 election on new commuter train lines and downtown streetcars." When I see things like this I can't help but have questions. First and foremost of which are, what's the hurry? Why the sudden change in direction from Rep. Krusee?
Krusee has been known throughout his career for supporting new roads, particularly ones with tolls, but in the past two years he has become a vocal supporter of rail transit.
Don't worry it doesn't take long to find out what's really going on:
"I don't want to wait two more years," he said. "If you build a system of over 100 miles, it's going to be expensive. But it's not going to be as expensive as 130, and it will do as much, if not more, for economic develop- ment."
Ah yes, good 'ol Ecodevo as they say. This whole "summit" was apparently about what is going to happen to the land all around SH 130 and who will benefit from what happens to that land, with actual transportation as an afterthought. Some are worried that the land won't be used for what it's intended, increasing the tax base:
Dozens of cities, counties and utility providers lie in the road's path. All need to work together, the roughly three dozen speakers and panelists concurred, to get ready for the boom 130 will bring.

Several speakers bemoaned the lack of development controls along the toll road, the vast majority of which is outside the limits of any city.

In such areas, no one has the ability to set aside land for office buildings or industrial plants, which generate more tax revenue than the ubiquitous subdivisions now multiplying along the toll road.

Some said the Legislature should give counties land-use powers that cities now have. Others said the state should create a new agency that can manage and coordinate growth in hot zones along 130.

Developer Sandy Rae warned that allowing the market to run rampant along the highway could create a future of used-car lots and cinder block facades.

"If we don't have patience," Rae warned, "we will not be happy 20 years from now."
Rail has it's place and is a great alternative and needed. But this is just like toll roads which aren't inherently bad. It's how they are implemented that makes them good or bad. And toll roads in this area have been implemented very badly. If we don't get any better oversight or accountability over the rail plan it will once again be an idea that could have turned out good and instead is bad because of bad implementation.


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