Thursday, May 15, 2008

NWA Times Opposes Light Rail

We don't need no stinking feasibility study of a future light rail system in Northwest Arkansas. Today's Northwest Arkansas Times lets us know that their editorial board has already done a study and concluded that it is "ill-advised."

They profess to know so much more than the late
John Lewis, who first proposed it; Ron Goforth, President of Beta-Rubicon; John Bradberry of Greenway LLC, Steve Luoni, director of the UA Community Design Center; Steve Rust, President of the Fayetteville Economic Development Council; and Alderman Lioneld Jordan, Chair of the Street Committee. Jordan and Steve Clark both stresseed in their announcement speeches for Mayor the need to study the future of light rail in Northwest Arkansas, and Walt Eilers had a brief mention of it in a position paper.

The editors strain to make the perfect the enemy of the good. "In our perfect world, communities would be designed around strong mass transit options that made routes functional and the time commitment not much different than driving one’s personal vehicle. Workers in one community, in our perfect world, would be able to hop aboard light rail, quickly speeding to their morning or evening destinations with ease. Dreamers in Northwest Arkansas really enjoy talking up that last option. ...We hate squashing daydreams, but such notions are powerfully impractical."

On Tuesday, one of the editors had a column complaining about how people riding bicycles irritated him and got in his way while he was driving a car. Now, today we are told that any other environmentally-sensible options are also out of the question -- that the bus system has "limited route options," that scooters are "not the most sensible or safe," and that while walking is cheap, "community designs don’t always lend themselves to traveling by foot."

Perhaps the Northwest Arkansas Times, the Chamber of Cowbirds, and the Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations and Wealthy Business Executives will be able to elect public officials who love more concrete, have a plan for us to build and pay for a beltway for the convenience of the trucking industry, and will put an end to this idle chatter of dreamers who envision planning a more sustainable future transportation system.

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