Most Northern Kentucky leaders have accepted the fact that tolls will be needed to help fund the new Brent Spence Bridge. However, if Kentucky lawmakers don’t vote to allow tolls on the bridge, the project could be shelved for another year.
Chris Wetterich of the Cincinnati Business Courier asks why a new highway interchange on I-71 isn’t being held to the same standards as the Cincinnati Streetcar by Mayor John Cranley and several council members.
Just for fun, I’d also like to consider how the Enquirer would cover the interchange if they used the same tone as their streetcar coverage:
- They’d print a bunch of letters to the editor claiming that the new interchange “doesn’t go anywhere.”
- They would use pictures of Model T’s and other antique cars instead of modern automobiles (like they frequently use photos of vintage trolleys instead of modern light rail streetcars).
- They’d constantly refer to the interchange as “proposed” (even after contracts are signed and construction is started).
- Instead of just reporting the facts, they would get a bunch of quotes from supporters and opponents of the interchange in a massive display of false equivalence.
- They will finally come out in support of the interchange–but they’ll endorse a mayoral candidate who runs on a pledge to kill the interchange after it’s already under construction.
Even the Enquirer thinks it would be fiscally irresponsible to cancel the Cincinnati Streetcar project, which is very much under construction:
But now 200 construction workers are digging up Downtown streets, and 1,800 feet of rails are already in the ground. [...]
Project manager John Deatrick estimates it will cost another $34 million to $47 million, and take up to a year, to stop it. There are streetcars under construction, tracks to rip up, streets and curbs to restore. By city estimates, we could spend $67 million to $80 million and have nothing to show for it.
And suddenly, the Enquirer understands that the streetcar will make Cincinnati more competitive with its peer cities:
A low cost of living is no longer enough to spur growth; we must also offer modern infrastructure and amenities, especially to the millennials and baby boomers interested in urban living. [...]
To attract those kinds of jobs and workers, 20 streetcar systems are under construction or planned in the U.S., in addition to around a dozen in operation. They are in places like Charlotte, N.C.; Milwaukee; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis – places we compete with for people and jobs.
I wish the Enquirer would have considered these arguments years ago, instead of publishing ridiculous articles about Barry Horstman power walking the streetcar route.
And finally, what does the Enquirer say about their endorsement of John Cranley, who, uhh, ran on a promise to kill the streetcar?
In endorsing Cranley, we said he would “have to rein in his dictatorial tendencies and discipline himself to be diplomatic, respectful and collaborative.” What we’ve seen so far is a matter for concern. Hurling insults at professionals like streetcar project manager John Deatrick isn’t what we need.
Lawmakers from the area have been the most ardent opponents of tolls as a primary funding mechanism for replacing the bridge, arguing that the federal government needs to pay for most of it. [...]
“I guess if we want this bridge to be built in our lifetime, it is going to have to be with some type of tolling,” said Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier. “I don’t think the federal government will be any better off in 2040 than it is today.”
The Cincinnati Streetcar is the first streetcar in the United States to be designed with curb level boarding at every stop, making it the most accessible in the nation. Curb level boarding means easy access for people with wheelchairs, visual impairments, walkers, or other mobility issues. Unlike a bus, they can enter the streetcar independently without the driver having to stop to assist them. Curb level boarding is also helpful for people with strollers, young children, or luggage.
And that’s just one of the many advantages of streetcars over buses.
Whether you live in rural areas or the city, you’re much less likely to die from a gunshot wound — either from someone else or self-inflicted — than you are in a simple accident. Especially car crashes, which make up the bulk of unintentional injury deaths — motor-vehicle-injury-related deaths occurred at a rate that is more than 1.4 times higher than the next leading cause of death. [...]
But guns — whether used accidentally or with intent — are much less likely to be the cause of death than another tool: cars. And people drive more, drive longer, drive faster and drive drunker in rural areas than in urban ones, where they can walk or take public transit.
People aged 55-64 had the highest rate of new-vehicle purchases in 2011, according to the study, and they’ve become the age group most likely to buy a new car. Just four years ago, the population aged 35-44 was most likely to buy a new car, which goes to show how much the auto industry and its customer base has changed since the recession in 2008. But the decline in miles driven by Americans started in 2004, according to another study by the University of Michigan, much of which has been related to lifestyle choices, such as urban living and public transit.
“Different things are converging which suggest that we are witnessing a long-term cultural shift,” said Mimi Sheller, a sociology professor at Drexel University and director of its Mobilities Research and Policy Center. She cites various factors: the Internet makes telecommuting possible and allows people to feel more connected without driving to meet friends. The renewal of center cities has made the suburbs less appealing and has drawn empty nesters back in. Likewise the rise in cellphones and car-pooling apps has facilitated more flexible commuting arrangements, including the evolution of shared van services for getting to work.
I’ve linked to lots of similar articles before, but it’s interesting to watch media outlets catching on to the fact that this is a long-term trend.
As the Indiana Department of Transportation prepares to close a stretch of interstate highway in Downtown Indianapolis for three months to perform upgrades, Aaron Renn asks:
If you can keep closing this stretch of interstate for three months at a time to work on it, do you really need it at all? Why not just close it permanently and save all this money?
[...] because the Texas 130 toll road is carrying traffic about half of what was projected when it opened in October.
A one-off occurrence, or a sign of a larger trend?