Strawmen Alert

Strawmen suffer in the words of today's P-G perspective piece on Negative Pittsburgh:

"Most cities would jump at the opportunity to have a new civic center built for them at little or no cost to the taxpayer." Most cities would also jump at the opportunity to host Santa's workshop. Pittsburgh wasn't offered a civic center, and what was offered wasn't going to be "at little or no cost to the taxpayer."

"Most cities would love to boast of having a professional hockey team with the best young talent in the league." Most cities would also love to boast of full employment, perpetual sunshine, and zero crime. The question is what it costs, and what the city can afford, not just what the city gets.

"Most cities would also want to build or extend a light rail system where the federal government is paying 80 percent of the cost and construction would have minimal traffic impacts." No, actually, most cities would (or should) not. *Taxpayers* and *people who ride public transportation* would want to expand public transportation where public transportation is needed.

"Most cities would see how a new arena or light rail extension would stimulate new business and development." Most cities would (or should) put an arena and rail transportation in places where development is most needed and wanted. Want to use light rail extension to stimulate development in an underserved community? Put the T on Fifth and Forbes Avenues between Downtown and Oakland.

"Most cities would appreciate the number of quality jobs that such projects would create during and after their construction." Most cities trying to promote quality jobs don't count "ushers" in their lists.

"Most cities would see a new arena as a lure for new entertainment or the extension of a rail system as just a stepping stone to other areas, like, say, the airport corridor or the North Hills." Most cities interested in extending light rail to an airport that lies south of the city would not spend tens of millions of dollars on a northward extension.


6 Responses to "Strawmen Alert"

Jefferson said... 1/02/2007 1:53 PM

I agree with almost everything you say here, but the airport is, in fact, west and slightly north of downtown. Depending on what rights-of-way are available, it's not unreasonable to imagine a T line starting from the northside and running up the ohio toward the airport.

...not that I believe that any such thing will happen.

Mike Madison said... 1/02/2007 2:39 PM

Whaddya know? That's right! So does the most sensible rail route to the airport run through the North Shore, the West End and then out via Route 60? The preferred MagLev route was going to follow Route 60, but its first stop was going to be Station Square.

Jefferson said... 1/02/2007 3:03 PM

A line that starts at Station Square, then runs out rt 60 to the airport would have at least two river crossings, which seems odd, given the expense of new bridges and tunnels. Of course the current proposed line also has two river crossings to get to downtown.

Given the hilly topography, though, it's reasonable to assume that all the best routes have already been used for rail ROWs or roads. So the "best" route probably depends a lot on what property the Port Authority can acquire and convert to light rail.

Jefferson Provost said... 1/02/2007 4:05 PM

Oops! I was thinking of Rt 65! A line running out Rt 60 would have no river crossings from Station Square.

Bram Reichbaum said... 1/02/2007 9:11 PM

The implication being that if a politician thought of it, it has to be a good idea. And if you don't support it you're letting the terrorists win.

Megan said... 1/03/2007 8:22 AM

I agree. There actually was a big push in the late 80's/early 90's to extend the rail system out to Edgewood/Swissvale, but it died, in part due to requests from some along the line to "not have stops in the Hill District", as it would "bring a bad element" to their neighborhoods. This was dubbed the "Spineline" project. Also, for some reason the moneymen in the Pittsburgh region love their busses and hate rail transit, even though, with an extended system out to the East suburbs, traffic, pollution, and the derth of parking in the Downtown/Oakland/Sq. Hill corridor would be vastly reduced. The bus sucks, I would much rather ride in a streetcar or train!

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