We are facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gas, and commuter traffic competing with 18-wheelers for space on our crowded roads in Northwest Arkansas. Traditional thinking trapped in the 1950s says just build more bypasses and beltways, but a more progressive vision for our regional transportation future includes convenient mass transit and a light rail system.
Steve Luoni, director of the UA Community Design Center, told
Jeff Hawkins, director of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, earlier this year asked our Congressional delegation to consider a $500,000 earmark for a north-south travel corridor study that would include the feasibility of light rail, as well as bus rapid transit and other possible solutions to alleviate traffic congestion now and in the future. That would be a good first step.
What happens if light rail isn’t studied and planned for now but then becomes necessary in the future. “In
“The people who bitch and moan and roll on the floor (about the cost of light rail ) are typically wealthy — driving Escalades or something. You’re never going to get them out of their Escalades. Bless them; let them drive it. But we all need to think about another segment of our population that is underserved and not as vocal, too,” Goforth said.There is also plenty of moaning and skepticism from Phil Pumphrey, executive director of Ozark Regional Transit. If you can’t get people to ride the existing buses operated by Ozark Regional Transit, he asks, why would you want to spend more money on a rail system when you haven’t demonstrated that people will use mass transit that is already available? “You can’t build light rail then expect to fix the bus system afterwards. You’ve got to have a bus system that’s vibrant and meeting the community’s needs,” he said. It is about money, you see, and ORT doesn't think it is getting enough now.
County Judge Jerry Hunton and the other ORT board members are urging
An even better idea is to contact the Northwest Arkansas Council and tell them that you would support a Regional Mobility Authority -- if they would put mass transit and light rail as Priority One, instead of just shilling for the trucking industry and pushing concrete bypasses. I can guarantee you, it is not even on their mind now. Their website lists XNA airport and the Arkansas Missouri Railroad as the only transportation resources in Northwest Arkansas.
If you want a modern, convenient, and efficient public mass transit and a light rail system for the citizens' 21st century future in Northwest Arkansas, call Mike Malone at 582-2100 or send him an email at Mikemalone@nwacouncil.org. Tell him you would use mass transportation and be willing to vote for local taxes to match state and federal funding.
If not, just sit on your ass and watch them continue business as usual and try to raise your taxes to build the Bella Vista and Springdale bypass projects for the benefit of the PTB.