Friday, December 23, 2011

Pedestrian Access to DART Stations

I should probably know that when a blogger begins by saying, "Today I vent about ...", that I should quit reading then and there. But how can I resist when the blogger is a member of The Dallas Morning News editorial board (Rodger Jones), and his subject is pedestrian access to the DART stations in Richardson? Jones vents that he can't easily walk from his residence west of US 75 and Renner Rd to the PGBT DART station. There are no sidewalks (yet). I can't tell exactly who Jones blames for this, but it's some combination of the City of Richardson, NTTA and DART.

After the jump, does he have a point?



Of course Jones has a point. Look at an aerial view of the PGBT DART station. It's surrounded by 300 acres of undeveloped land. It's a long hike across a muddy field or on the unpaved shoulder of a freeway to get from Renner Rd to the PGBT DART station. It's been that way since the station opened and it'll likely be that way for a few more years to come, until planned development of those 300 acres is a reality.

Still, even though Jones has a point, I have no sympathy for Jones's rant. Jones makes it sound like there's a failure in planning here rather than just impatience on Jones's part for those plans to come to fruition. Jones fails to mention the big plans moving forward to develop that land. I can understand impatience at the slow pace of development, but it's irresponsible to fill a blog post with a rant about not being able to walk to the DART station without telling readers more about what's planned to rectify that. It's much better than a sidewalk along a freeway.

I also fault Jones for failing to mention his alternative route. Renner Rd is approximately halfway between the PGBT DART station and the Galatyn DART station. There's a paved trail through the beautiful Spring Creek Nature Area from Renner Rd to that Galatyn DART station. Jones ought to take it more often. It's a slightly longer walk, but it might soothe his soul and cut down on his need to vent.

Regular readers know there is no bigger champion of DART, of trails, of pedestrians, of transit-oriented development, blogging in Richardson than me. Jones should find me a natural ally in his desire to improve pedestrian access to DART stations. But I can't help reading his rants as "old man yells at cloud" crazy. As something Andy Rooney might write, amusing in a cranky kind of way, but not serious. Worse, Jones's rant is counter-productive. His closing question, "Why have we invested billions in the DART system if we make it hard to get to?" suggests he's really not interested in improving pedestrian access to DART at all. It's as if he's really interested in rolling back DART. And then he'd have nowhere to walk to at all.

7 comments:

Nathan Morgan said...

Entitlement mentality. This liberal media mogul seems to be making noises like the rest of society owes him something, namely a paved walkway to a distant train station. How depraved have we become when people gripe about society not providing for their every deprivation?

There are at least two solutions to this guy's problem. They both begin with taking personal responsibility. First, if the location of your home is inconvenient, move. Second, buy a car and use the roads to get to your destination like the millions of the rest of us.

The more people that think society owes them something, the more people will vote themselves welfare. Then what do we have?

Fred Schwab said...

Mr. Morgan,
Do you want roads to drive your car on? Would you consider that having an entitlement mentality?

Andrew said...

For accesbility, Richardson is getting attention.


Bike Friendly Oak Cliff has announced Richardson as its 2011 most Bike Friendly Neighborhood.

Andrew said...

http://bikefriendlyoc.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/bfoc-best-of-2011-part-2/

Nathan Morgan said...

Fred,

Don't be crazy. Richardson has survived without these recreational amenities, and probably did much better fiscally before Management started overpaying for them and growing the local government staff to maintain them.

All I'm saying is, if you don't want the train station in your neighborhood, don't expect the rest of us to build a yellow brick road to your doorstep so you can skip across the freeway to it. Live closer, or drive.

From a more practical view, the cost of this idea is outrageous when divided by the number of citizens likely to actually use it. Or, do you know something that has not been disclosed to the public?

Andrew, Richardson is not a "neighborhood", and the Bike Friendly Oak Cliff blog is no example of any kind of objective standard setting body. The bike lane on Grove Rd in the article photo was added to mitigate complaints about traffic issues there and collect grant money for adding bike lanes. This particular location was also chosen for bike lanes on the street because the city decided not to build the concrete sidewalk trail project through the neighborhood that it sold voters in the bond election of 1997.

These trails do little as the alternative transportation routes concocted to reduce any measurable amount of pollution for which the Federal, State and County Highway Funds to build them were granted. These are nothing more than unnecessary pork projects that would not get built if citizens had to pay for them out of their own pocket.

As for diverting road maintenance, repair and replacement funds to build sidewalks over the river and through the woods, take a look at the shape of the washboard roadways in Richardson. Whoever took the photo for the Oak Cliff blog had to walk a few blocks to find a frame-able photo that didn't show the decrepit street. The City hasn't even set aside money to maintain the stripes.

We decided long ago to establish revenue streams for the purpose of maintaining, repairing and replacing roadways.

Over the years, in watching the money in these funds grow, wild-eyed public servants have forgotten the purpose and found ways to call just about anything a transportation project in order to qualify to draw money from them. It is so bad that now maintenance, repairs and replacement is financed through a never-ending stream of increasing bond debt and new roads are built as tollways. What happened to the Texas I grew up in? How did all these loser foreign municipal finance ideas get into use?

Fred Schwab said...

Mr. Morgan,

The Texas you grew up in had cheap gasoline. I worry that will not be the Texas of the future.

I think it is prudent for city planners to provide for forms of transportation other than the car.

Nathan Morgan said...

Fred,
I would agree that we should develop transportation alternatives, just as generations before us. If these ideas were sustainable, then they would have merit.

As it is, public employees are robbing from limited resources that should be set aside for outstanding needs that are not being fulfilled. As we see every time we take the car out, the roadways, for example, are suffering neglect because funds are being diverted to pay for, in this case, unfunded sidewalk projects. I, too, worry the Texas of the future is not to be the conservative one of my past.

There are far too many municipal resources being spent on luxuries, not just sidewalks.

None of the municipal resources have been saved to maintain, repair and replace the crumbling ones of the past. That's poor planning. That's bad management.

The only means of taking care of the infrastructure needs of this city is to borrow the money in the form of bonds. If we were managing the city prudently, there would be fewer extravagances and we would be setting that money aside to tend to maintaining the infrastructure. That's wise. And, that's what government is suppose to be doing. These days, government has become the best job in town and the playground of those who are short on scruples.