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Avoiding the Road Less Traveled?

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 by Craig Miller.

As any idiot can see, downtown Arlington lacks aesthetic excellence because it has five lanes of traffic instead of two.

Show of hands: how many of you avoid going to Abram Street in downtown Arlington because the sidewalks are too narrow? Anybody? Anybody? Didn’t think so. Let’s try this again: how many of you avoid Abram Street because of the lack of quality landscaping? Anybody at all? Finally, how many of you avoid driving down Abram Street because there are just too dang many lanes(five including the center turn lane!), but that if it were reduced to three, or better yet two, you’d mosey on down there this very instant to grab a Shipley Donut bear claw?

Susan Schrock reports (“Arlington considers future of Abram St.,” Star-Telegram, Sept. 10, 2012) that the Arlington City Council and various public officials believe that these are some of the things that are keeping customers away from downtown businesses.

Which of course begs the question: how dumb do they think we are?

Apparently at least $55,000 dumb, since that is the money that will be spent to study the effects of reducing the lanes (along with wider sidewalks, additional landscaping, adding bike lanes, etc.). The thinking seems to be:
1) Fewer lanes will cause traffic congestion.
2) People love traffic congestion.
Therefore: more people will flock to downtown Arlington businesses.

Such stunning logic is supplemented by Public Works and Transportation director Keith Melton, who is quoted as saying, “Everybody agrees it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing roadway.” Well duh. The road itself needs to be repaved. How about we start with that? Old and poorly-kept buildings line much of the street. Refurbishing those would have a huge impact. Abram is a major Arlington street, and its appearance and viability undoubtedly affect the city’s image and quality of life. But replacing automobile lanes with bike lanes and planting a few trees ignore the real issues.

City Hall offers bizarre plans that are disconnected from reality. The current sidewalks could use some repair here and there but are perfectly wide enough unless the city is anticipating an influx of sumo wrestler pedestrians who insist on walking three abreast on their way from eating those Shipley bear claws to catching a concert at the Levitt Pavilion. The city planners talk about the need for additional on-street parking, yet there’s always plenty of parking around. Even during major Levitt Pavilion concerts, it’s rare to have to walk more than two or three blocks (on those oh-so-narrow-sidewalks!) to get to the event. My guess is that even a convention of sumo wrestlers could manage.

Tony Rutigliano braves the treacherous downtown Arlington walkways. Oh wait, it’s actually just Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-Dum facing the Balrog. My mistake.

According to Ms. Schrock’s article, the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation “is pushing for Abram to become more pedestrian-friendly.” The group’s executive vice president Tony Rutigliano says people need to feel safer walking around downtown, and he’s not talking about muggings. Apparently those narrow sidewalks are frightening the women and children–a veritable plethora of Bridges of Khazad-Dum, surrounded by Balrogs, with Mr. Rutigliano offering to be our Gandalf shepherding us to safety.

I can’t believe he’s serious, and that is what’s disconcerting about all this. A debate about the future of Abram Street is needed, but it has to be based on reality, not on some mythical fantasy about an imaginary city. What’s next? How about a place to park landspeeders? What if I want to ride my tauntaun to the library?

The way to get more customers to businesses is to make it easier, not more difficult, to get to these businesses. Clogging up the roads so that we have to park six blocks away and walk or bicycle the rest of the distance just to grab a donut or taco is absurd. We might as well plan for that convention of sumo wrestlers to parachute in by helicopter for some Babe’s chicken.

3 Responses to Avoiding the Road Less Traveled?

  1. Larry Scalf

    September 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    More dunderheadedness from our public officials. What makes these guys think that turning Abram Street into a pedestrian mall is going to improve the downtown businesses there? You have to have something to go to down there, and right now there is nothing. Pinching off traffic flow in that area will make people want to avoid it even more.

  2. LWhite

    September 18, 2012 at 6:44 am

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL MFAO!!! WHAT WILL THESE IMBICILS COME UP WITH NEXT?? PARKING METERS 2-3 BLOCKS FROM THIS SO-CALLED MALL ON ABRAMS? OH YES,,, THAT WOULD BE MORE REVENUE FOR THE CITY COFFERS RIGHT?? NOW IF THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT TO DO,, WHERE WILL THE CLUCK AND HIS LIL CHICKS PARK,, OR DO THEY PRIVLEDGED PARKING NOW BACK OF CITY HALL OR WHERE-EVER THEY MEET. TIMES, AGENDAS, VOTES ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING. DOES ANYONE DOWNTOWN AT THE IVORY TOWERS KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING AND WHY?? LET THE CITY PAID TRAFFIC, BUILDING PERMITS AND STREET ENGINEERS DO THIS SO CALLED “EXTRA STUDY”,, THEY HAVE COLLEGE AND OR UNIVERSITY DEGREES IN THIS TYPE OF WORK,, OR SHOULD HAVE ANYWAY. WHAT ARE THEIR SALARYS ANYWAY,, $100,000.00 PLUS BENEFITS, BRUNCHES WITH CAVIAR, CHAMPAIGN, HORS DORVS(sp) CHOPPED LIVER, SHRIMP COCKTAILS ETC ETC AT THE MAIN CHICKENS HOME OR MAYBE DOWN IN DALLAS AT REUNION TOWER(such a quality and gracious place to have a fine meal after a hard days “work”) PAID FOR NO LESS BY US HARD WORKING TAX PAYING RESIDENTS. SURELY THE TOP CHICK WOULD FURNISH A STRETCH LIMO FOR THE RIDE TO DALLAS,,HE HAVE TO KEEP HIS LIL CHICKS PASSIFIED YA KNOW. ANOTHER THOUGHT,,, SINCE UTA IS CLOSE BY ABRAMS AND DOWNTOWN,,, COULDN’T WE ASK THEM TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS STUDY AS A GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE,, FREE OF CHARGE OF COURSE? JUST A THOUGHT. BLESSINGS TO ALL WHO CAN ‘CATCH MY DRIFT’ ON THIS SUBJECT. I SHALL REMAIN ANONYMOUS FOR OBVIOUS REASONS,, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. oH ONE MORE ITEM,, ARE WE GOING TO GET MORE ‘RED LIGHT CAMERAS’ OR ARE THE ONES STILL UP GOING TO BE TAKEN TO THE LANDFILL? ANOTHER WASTE OF TAX PAYERS $S,,AS STUDYS HAVE SHONE IN OTHER CITYS. fORGET DOWNTOWN ARLINGTON,, ITS DYING BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING THERE OF INTEREST BUT THE ‘ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT’ I GUESS IS THRIVING BECAUSE THEY,,THE CITY REPAVED STREETS, PLANTED TRESS AND INSTALLED THESE FANCY STREET LIGHTS WHERE NOONE WALKS AT NIGHT,, SMART,,VERY SMART,,BUT YOU SEE THATS OVER IN THE ‘ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT'(CENTER ST. BRIDGE OF I-30 BY BEST BUY FOR EXAMPLE). NOW I CAN REST IN RELATIVE PEACE TODAY,, I HOPE. MAYBE I’LL JUST GO TO THE MEETINGS AT CITY HALL TODAY/TONIGHT FOR A GOOD LAUGH OR TWO AND CAN WE BRING OUR OWN BREWSKYS?? SHHHH ‘MEETING IN SESSION,,,QUIET PLEASE’ THE SIGN READS. SOOOO,,, GUESS I’LL HAVE TO GO OUTSIDE TO DO MY HEEHAWS, OMG’S, THIS IS HARD TO COMPREHEND COMMENTS,AND OTHER DISTURBING LAUGHING,,EH ?? ADIOS AMIGOS!! ‘TIL WE MEET AGAIN.

  3. Stephen

    September 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I can give you two reasons why I avoid Abrams. Two, there is nothing there I care to go to and the number one reason, the Cowboys stadium. Building the Stadium just off of Collins had to be the dumbest idea ever to come out of our city council.

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