Friday, September 13, 2013, by Buddy Saunders
Arlington isn’t the only city where City Hall has bad ideas. In Fort Worth the city is spending millions of dollars to narrow a street that was recently widened to six lanes. It’s going back to four lanes to make room for wider sidewalks and bicycles.
Councilman Jimmy Bennett thinks narrowing Abram Street by a lane creates an “acceptable” level of traffic congestion, just a minute per driver (Collins to Cooper or vice versa). But why is it acceptable? Like cancer, there is NO acceptable level of traffic congestion. Under Bennett’s “acceptable” one minute level of intentional congestion, a driver would spend an additional 8.7 hours a year sitting in his car burning gas. Multiply that by the 27,000 daily drivers, and you get 117,000 hours per year wasted sitting in “acceptable” congestion.
So there you have it. That’s how some on your City Council plan to reward you for voting for them (assuming you bothered to vote).
That’s what the 380,000 citizens of Arlington get out of this deal.
Now let’s ask who benefits and how they come out ahead.
First, what’s the value of a street lane? About a million dollars a mile. When a lane is removed, removal benefits the adjacent property owner. He gets more frontage—a wider sidewalk, additional parking, and/or space for open air seating in front of his building. In a kind of imminent domain in reverse, property owned and used by all the 380,000 citizens of Arlington is given to a millionaire fat cat.
It’s called crony capitalism. And if you’ve got the right kind of Mayor and City Council on your side, it works great. Problem is, it works great only for the well-connected few. The rest of us are left out in the cold, or in this case sitting in backed-up-traffic or forced to take a longer route via less convenient streets.
We propose a better way.
First off, consider that there is no business currently operating on Abram from Collins to Cooper that needs wider sidewalks and such. Any building that could justify a need for wider sidewalks exists in the future and is yet to be built.
So here’s what we propose, a solution that is simple, respects every citizen, and won’t cost the taxpayer a dime.
When the fat cat is ready to build his new building, let him set his building back from the street a few feet or a lot of feet so that he can have his wide sidewalk or open air restaurant or whatever he wants without stranding him fellow citizens in needless traffic congestion.
Do this, Mr. Mayor and Council member, and we’ll see you at the ribbon cutting