Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mass Transit Insanity

You can't pick up a copy of the Indianapolis Star (or scroll through its web pages if you're an Internet reader) without being overwhelmed with news stories, columns and editorials drilling into your mind that there is absolutely no question about it: The only sensible thing the Indiana General Assembly can do this session is advance a proposal to allow for massive local income tax increases to finance a multi-billion dollar metropolitan mass transit boondoggle being advanced by the pay-to-play contractors for a return on the campaign contributions they've made to purchase our easy-to-buy state lawmakers. Fellow blogger Fred McCarthy couldn't help but notice the irony amidst all the mass transit propaganda in the Star with this story on those same news pages about the latest I-69 project to reduce gridlock along the I-69 corridor on Indianapolis' northeastside:
Just when you thought the Interstate 69 construction couldn’t get any worse, the state says more changes are coming to the Fishers area.
The newest component of the multi-million dollar project, Operation Indy Commute, is an $11 million contract awarded to Goshen-based Rieth Riley Construction Co, Inc., that calls for two main improvements: adding a new lane along the five-mile stretch of southbound I-69 from 116th Street/Ind. 37 interchange in Fishers to I-465; and building auxiliary lanes that will connect three interchanges along I-69. The price tag of the project is about $29 million.
INDOT spokesman Nathan Riggs said the auxiliary lanes will alleviate some of the traffic congestion at the 82nd, 96th and 116th street interchanges.
“For people who might be coming from 116th Street down to 96th Street, they won’t have to go to I-69, they can just get on the interchange and drive through there,” Riggs said. “There’s currently a lot of that interchange to interchange traffic that’s merging in and out of I-69. Not only does it (adding auxiliary lanes) increase capacity, but prevents cars from having to merge.”
INDOT officials held an open house Monday at the Fishers Train Station, 11601 Municipal Drive, to give an update on its new projects. About 30 people came, including Bret Anderson, who has lived in Fishers for about 30 years . . .

It’s still too early to give a specific timeline on the rest of the mainline I-69 project, Riggs said, but the work will be done in segments.
At the open house, INDOT officials also talked about the other component of the project that began in April and focuses more on the 116th Street/Ind. 37 interchange along I-69 from the northbound side. The goal is to widen shoulders and add more lanes to accommodate traffic traveling in and out of the interchange. The $18.2 million project also includes a new flyover ramp that will carry two lanes of northbound traffic from I-69 to Ind. 37 . . .
Fred McCarthy has one word to describe it: "Astonishment." We prefer insanity, which is defined as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. But McCarthy's point is that we continue to invest huge sums of money to make commuting to work by automobile more convenient by building new roads, interchanges and widening existing roads at the same time we're subsidizing private developers to build more parking garages to park all those cars. And all of those projects have the blessings of the Indianapolis Star. As McCarthy puts it:
One has to wonder. Are the people responsible for these projects actually talking to each other? Driving is made easier. Residential units downtown are being encouraged, if not actually subsidized. And the city is building and giving away parking garages. Who will use mass transit?
Well, there are thousands of ordinary Indianapolis residents who do need public transit back and forth across town to work, shop, visit, whatever. We’re all for that. But "express routes" with stops every eight to ten blocks won't be much help to those folks. We most certainly oppose using additional public funds to make life easier for those who have made the choice to live in suburbia. We don’t need rapid transit on the Stadium-to-Palladium route . . .  
An old friend is credited with the saying, "It's a mighty thin pancake that don't have two sides." In the local print media, mass transit has become a "mighty thin pancake."
The same folks pushing for a metropolitan mass transit plan over at the State House are pushing all those road projects because they're all a part of an elite group of government contractors who simply live off publicly-financed public works projects. They don't support mass transit because we need it. They support mass transit because they're looking for another massive, publicly-financed project that will keep money flowing to them for a few years until they concoct their next great public works project. They're paying actors to appear at legislative hearings pretending to be down-on-their luck poor saps who can't get to work because there ain't no bus to ride and they can't afford a car. Any lawmaker who actually believes these people testifying are real and not just paid actors are even more stupid than I gave them credit for being. And if these so-called employers out there truly can't get people to show up for work to their minimum wage paying-jobs, then they should spring for a shuttle van to transport their workers to and from work. Don't look to the rest of us to tax and spend billions to accommodate the minuscule portion of commuters who prefer to ride a bus or train. And please, please, stupid politicians, stop pretending you care about people. You only care about the lobbyists shoving campaign contributions into your pockets, buying dinner for you at St. Elmo's and giving you free tickets to Colts and Pacers games to support this poorly-conceived mass transit plan, which seems to change by the hour but continues to have the same high price tag.


Guest said...

No one is biking in the bike lanes and only a few ride the buses now off peak hours. The powers that be live in alternate reality from us. Somehow I think the flawed referendum process will do us is.

Pete Boggs said...

This could work if subsidized with Casino Rail, a state run gambling operation on select cars operating within the system. Just kidding.... but who knows what they'll "think" of next.