In the wake of the City Council passing the East Riverside Corridor Master Plan and the impending opening of commuter rail, we here at The Placemaking Institute have been ebullient about the prospects for Austin’s future. Upon arriving to work this past Thursday, however, we found Our Most Senior Fellow slumped over listlessly disconsolate. We asked, “Is there something wrong?” He did not reply. So again, “What’s the matter?” we asked. He tried but could not reply.
And when he is struck speechless we know that something’s gone really wrong.
So very much concerned we endeavored to find out by cajoling, by prying, and finally by imploring – all to no avail; for several days he could only wince at the ceiling before again hanging his head, which he would sometimes pound. We grew quite alarmed, especially when he began shaking all over as if palsied with anger before tossing a wadded up newspaper ball at us: a Statesman article from March 10th headlined “Mayor, council reverse stance on November rail election.”
In outright disbelief we proceeded to read that “Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who during his 2009 campaign pledged to push for a bond election this year on an urban rail system, said Wednesday he no longer supports a November 2010 rail vote because too many important questions remain unanswered” including “the question of where a train would cross the lake — on South First Street or Congress Avenue or on a new bridge nearby,” who the rail operator might be, the impact of construction, and the questions remaining about possible funding sources. “The City Council’s six other members quickly took the same position, effectively ending the chance that voters this year will be asked to approve an electric light rail or streetcar system. Leffingwell and other council members, however, said they support the idea of urban passenger rail and left open the possibility that a rail bond election could occur in 2011.”
By now stalking back and forth at an alarming rate, “Bosh!” Our Most Senior Fellow exclaims, “Bosh I say! As Leffingwell himself once said we must stop thinking small! Because immediate action is needed! Such dire congestion straits as Austin’s make these concerns of theirs for all intents and purposes niggling! Much like the ERCMP the initial stage of any Urban Rail system should be construed as a vision of what must occur if Austin is to truly further itself along the path to Progress! Delays cost MONEY! And lead to production time issues! There comes a point at which you throw your hands up in exasperation and despair and ask are all the dunces in confederacy against Austin?”
We second his emotion. (On a more positive note, politicians usually break their campaign pledges well before this, no?)
The Ramones: “Third verse same as the first/But a whole lot louder and worse”
[source] “Steel railroad ties are generally unpopular with U.S. railroad operators and transit agencies because, among other problems, they contribute to signal failures. And they’re significantly more expensive than standard wooden ties. That didn’t deter Capital Metro from buying 65,000 steel ties for $4.5 million and installing 46,000 of them in recent years. Though that process started before the agency decided to build a passenger rail system that would rely on electronic signal equipment, installation of steel ties continued even afterward. The agency has removed some of the steel ties along its Llano-to-Giddings freight line, 32 miles of which will be shared by passenger rail, and sold others at a loss…Capital Metro said further removal of steel ties probably will be necessary, especially if the agency someday expands commuter rail east to Manor and Elgin.”