Friday, November 03, 2006

Downtown Rising and Transportation

A good opinion piece in the DesNews this morning by my good friend Ralph Becker about the current efforts underway to reimagine and revitalize downtown Salt Lake. This is a critical part of keeping our metro area vital and attractive. While downtown no longer functions as THE location for all important business and economic activity, as downtowns all over the world once were, it is still important as an activity center and "heart and soul" for the region. The last thing in the world we should allow is for the downtown to become as some others have, where the metro area essentially become a donut -- lots of stuff happening around the edges, but a big hole in the middle.

Along with the focus on downtown, much of the region is also in the midst of a campaign for transportation improvement, with lots of talk about expanding the transit system. I just attended this morning an open house by UTA marking 50% completion of the FrontRunner commuter rail system construction from Ogden to Salt Lake City. We are anxiously looking forward to having this great service up and running soon!

Anthony Downs, senior fellow with the Brookings Institute, put much of this kind of discussion in context a couple of years ago when he addressed the Partnership for Downtown Baltimore. Many of the things he said there are relevant to our situation, I think.

Downs said, "Downtown is still a major employment center for office workers, government workers, and health care workers, and the retailers and service workers who serve the former. The largest office complex (in the state) is located here... . A lot of people who work here do not want to commute from a distance so they form a market for downtown housing.

"Downtown has the greatest aggregation of business services in the ... region; hence it can provide a better setting for many types of business than any suburban location, even though many suburban locations are getting larger and more urbanized, with many more retail and office complexes competitive with downtown.

"Now I would like to discuss some basic realities about transportation relevant to downtown.

"...traffic congestion is rising in intensity all over the world, and is likely to keep on doing so. This trend is caused partly be increasing population and prosperity, which enable more households to own more vehicles.

"By any reckoning, most commuters use private vehicles. ... There is a widespread belief that a bigger off-road transit system will surely reduce traffic congestion because it will take all its passengers off the highways during peak periods. But that is not necessarily the case. Your (Baltimore's) present light rail system has 25,000 unlinked passenger trips on a typical weekday. Even if all are commuter trips, then 12,500 commuters are using the light rail system daily. That is only 1.25% of all the region's commuters.

"There may be good reasons to build more transit capacity, such as improving mobility for people without access to cars. But expanding transit capacity will not significantly reduce peak-hour traffic congestion on any major roads that are already congested. It is no accident that most of the U.S. cities with the biggest transit systems also have very intensive traffic congestion. Both transit useage and congestion intensity are highly correlated with city and regional population density -- the greater the density, the worse the congestion.

"I am NOT saying that your desire to spend a lot of money on more transit is a waste of time, or should be scrapped. But I think it needs to be considered within a larger framework of thinking about transportation downtown and beyond."

Read the rest, there's some interesting and thought-provoking stuff here.

7 Comments:

At 8:36 PM, Blogger WP said...

I posted this on the CC blog and I think it is important everyone know about this...Thanks
In Thursday's edition of 'Davis Candidates' in the Davis County Clipper there is a full-page ad blasting Judge Page. The ad is paid for by a Doug Butts who claims to be chairman of Citizens for an Honest Judicial System. I wondered about the ad and made a few inquiries including someone who works very close with Judge Page. I also spoke to an attorney as well. Seems Mr. Butts appeared before Judge Page and came out on the loosing end of a domestic or divorce case and the ruling went against him. Mr. Butts was ordered by Judge Page to pay his estranged wife. So, in an effort to get even with the judge, Mr. Butts took out the ad. Probably cost him a thousand dollars anyway.

Don't be fooled or taken in by Mr. Butts' sour grapes ad. The people I talked with said Judge Page is one of the most knowledgeable and competent judges we have in our judicial system and should be retained. He is one of the very best. Please let your neighbors and friends know to vote to retain Judge Page. Sorry Mr. Butts just take your lumps and move on.

 
At 7:13 AM, Blogger google_PEAK_OIL said...

Hi, Wilf
I didn't want you to miss Kunstler's review of Breugmann's Sprawl: A Compact History . Many of your favorite authors, such as Kotkin, are mentioned. Here's a take away quote:
"At the center of his thesis is the unquestioned assumption that the suburban project can continue indefinitely, that it is a good thing, that we will get more of it, and we ought to stop carping and enjoy it. His book fails entirely to acknowledge the fact that we are entering a permanent global energy crisis that will put an end to the drive-in utopia whether people like it or not. This singular harsh fact obviates all the rationalizations brought to the quixotic defense of suburbia. What Bruegmann and his homies overlook is that American-style suburbia, aka sprawl, was an emergent, self-organizing system made possible only by lavish and exorbitant supplies of cheap fossil fuels, and once those conditions no longer obtain, not only will there be no further elaboration of this development pattern, but all the existing stuff built according to that pattern – which comprises more than eighty percent of everything ever built in America – will drastically lose its usefulness and its relative “market” value."

I guess my point is that we should be very careful about what sort of infrastucture for the future we spend today's wealth on, or we may find ourselves unable to make much use of all the costly stuff that surrounds us. Mr. Downs fails to consider in his theories of transportation what would happen if the costs long daily auto commutes become make them unaffordable for many of those now engaging in them. I see a future of overbuilt underused freeways and crowded inadequate transit systems.

 
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At 2:29 PM, Blogger WatchUtahJudges said...

This is a reply to WPs flagrant comments about Mr. Butts in which WP is trying to bully.

WP,

Where did you go?

Mr. Butts has been waiting for an apology and I doubt he will receive one. Why? pride? Refusal to face the facts or are you just supporting a Judge who continues make up the law from the bench. You say your sources are pretty accurate! Lets look at the real facts Mr. Butts has personally audited Judge Rodney S. Page. Out of approximately 3500 domestic cases since 1995 - 2007, subtracting out all stipulated, no children and cases other judges ruled on in Pages behalf we end up with about 270 cases. Now here are the sobering facts. Judge Page changed more then 4 statutes. One of which clearly states U.C.A. 78-45-7.15 subsections medical insurance to be 50/50 yet maybe Page doesn't know how to add when he ruled the Male participant to pay 2/3 costs. He did this more then 15 times, wow! He also charged on 20-30 other cases 100% premiums. What else has he been doing to brutalize families?

Are you kidding me? Let me ask again. Who did you say your sources are? yet you continue to brutalize Mr. Butts with accusations while he has the numbers. He is trying to make this a better place for families and what are you doing to help? Bulling him! If you do the math right, Mr. Butts can show where Judge Rodney Page willfully, flagrantly changed the law and continues to do so. Let's think about this, 270 divided by approximately 30 cases or more equates to over 10% of ruled cases involving children where he makes up his own law. Yes! You want this type of judge on the bench, go ahead don't apologize to Mr. Butts. These are just the simple facts. You want a case to help prove what he is telling you is true look up case 003470139 this is just a sample of source cases he ruled on this year 2007. One thing is for sure Mr. Butt's sources are not hearsay he uses cases. Start being nice to him we need more people like Mr. Butts who is willing to stick his neck out for the community.

Judge Rodney S. Page willfully and persistently misapplies the law 10% or more of non stipulated divorced children/families and that is the fact!

 
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