Sunday, December 28, 2008

Regional Mobility Abomination

By now you know that the NWA Regional Mobility Authority, a subsidiary of the Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations and Wealthy Business Executives, has decided for you that our collective transportation priorities in Northwest Arkansas are a Western Beltway to Bentonville ($800 million), a Bella Vista By-Pass ($250 million), and a Bethel Heights By-Pass ($540 million). Staffed by a determined Mike Malone and a spineless bunch of bureaucratic toadies at the NWA Regional Planning Commission, the compliant RMA action surprised no one.

The surprise might come when the Good Suit Club goes for raising our taxes to build their runways. No doubt they will run a well-financed media blitz to persuade us to pay for their projects, and any opposition will be both disorganized and underfunded. We ran a little poll this month to see whether our readers would be inclined to vote to raise their taxes for any such transportation system.

The results are hardly scientific, but the process was more democratic than anything to come from the NWACC&WBE. Twenty-five percent of our participating readers said they would vote against taxes for any regional transportation project. The RMA's three priority projects drew little public support: Bella Vista Bypass (6%); Bethel Heights Bypass(4%); and Western Beltway (4%). A far larger percentage of readers favored Improvemets for Highway 265 (31%) and a regional Light Rail System (54%).

There appears to be a serious disconnect between what the
Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations and Wealthy Business Executives wants and what the people they expect to pay for it have in mind. Our local elected mayors and county judges might want to rethink their position on priorities . . . or just go ahead and own up to which group they really serve.

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