Friday, May 02, 2008

Found Money

On Tuesday, we were treated to another episode of "As The City Works". I'm referring, of course, to the annoncement of a $153,000,000 federal grant to ease downtown traffic congestion and help clean up the air. Both are noble goals and I applaud the Mayor for his efforts to make life more tolerable and cleaner in the downtown area. I'm sure the promise of all that federal loot coming into city coffers will help pave the way to accomplishing at least some of these projects. One must expect a few contracts to be dealt out for consultants fees and feasability studies but, in the end, we may see some improvement.

There are, however, a few minor points to the story which gave me pause. Maybe I just don't see the big picture. First, allowing CTA bus drivers to control traffic signals? Now there's a sure way to speed things up. Of course, I'm not saying that CTA employees are not capable of handling the necessary technology to make this work. On the contrary, I believe a majority of these folks are more than up to the task. But, how far will this grant go to buy buses and equip them with all these techy gadgets and train operators to use them effectively? Somebody needs to do some math. Yes, that is a lot of money, but I'd bet it won't go as far as you think.

Then there's the concept of paying on a sliding scale to park in a loading zone. Guess all the parcel delivery companies better get ready to raise their rates because most do delivery and pickup runs at different times of the day. This might be a great time to open a bike messenger service, if you've been putting it off, waiting for the right moment.

This last point is my favorite: Raising TAXES on rates at privately operated parking facilities. This is the only quote on the subject from Mayor Daley:

(Chicago Tribune-April 30, 2008-Page One)

"Asked whether he was concerned that the experiment in behavior
modification would anger drivers, Daley's answer was simple.
'No, no, no,' the mayor said, standing next to Peters (Transportation
Secretary Mary Peters) during the signing ceremony at the
University of Illinois- Chicago"

Well, I guess those folks who build, remodel and maintain the many Loop office buildings which generate some of the sought-after TAX revenues are gonna have to practice a little behavior modification on their clients due to the increased costs of moving materials, equipment and manpower. It just seems like City Hall won't be satisfied until downtown streets are only populated by cronies and tumbleweeds.

As Always,
Not Wired

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