Archive for the ‘fairbanks alaska’ Tag

Complete Streets: A Good Idea with a Bad Unintended Consequence   3 comments

I found this article on line.

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/2014/03/03/the-last-frontier-complete-streets-in-alaska/

There’s a bittersweetness to this. I walk and ride my bike a lot. I would like to accomplish those activities without giving my life into the hands of idiot drivers. On the other hand ….

As a driver, I want to get where I need to go. I don’t want to be slowed by any consideration other than safety and my fellow drivers. Once I get in the vicinity of where I am going, I will often walk between stores, but I don’t want to be slowed in getting to the vicinity. 

“This spring, Fairbanks will start reconfiguring downtown streets to improve conditions for people traveling on foot and bicycle. Wider sidewalks, new bike lanes and narrowed arterials will calm traffic and make travel safer for everyone using the road.”

Living in Fairbanks and being aware of the plans that are being touted in this magazine gives me a unique perspective on the “reconfiguring of downtown streets”. Fairbanks has struggled for decades to revitalize its downtown, which was devastated by commercial growth on the outskirts that drew away shoppers. I’m sad about that too. It’s a unique area of town, with funky frontier architecture and I wish we could save it from the bulldozer of modern development … but this is not the way to do it.

Narrow Cushman Street and “calming traffic” means it will take me longer to get where I am going, so guess what happens? Being a busy modern lady with a hundred things on my plate, I will opt for those easy to access stores in the Box Belt rather than have my time wasted in an unnecessary traffic jam. Sorry Downtown, but my time is precious and I don’t want to waste it being frustrated. Most Fairbanksans agree with me so Downtown dries up and blows away. 

“The state ranks highest in the U.S. in the percentage of walking and biking commutes and in per capita funding for non-motorized transportation, and third-lowest in fatality rate among walkers and bicyclists.”

The above is a false statement dressed up in true statistics. Alaska ranks first in non-car motorized transportation because 80% of our communities are not accessible by road. Out in our bush communities, primary forms of transportation of 4-wheeler and snow machine. So, yes, we rank highest in walking commutes, but only became cars and the roads to drive them on are not available.

So, here’s the sad thing. Complete Streets makes a lot of sense. Walking is good for us and we should all do more of it and it makes a whole lot more sense for me to visit five shops in the Downtown area via my feet than to drive my car, thus saving gasoline and reducing emissions. But … BUT … because Complete Streets will slow traffic flow to the Downtown area, most people will opt to go elsewhere, thus facilitating the exact opposite behavior from what Donna Gardino wants.

So, when it fails, the Planners will come back and say we need to do more to revitalize Downtown and they’ll start introducing ways to force us to comply with these ideas.

The sad thing is that the solution is pretty obvious to me. Make it easier to drive into the Downtown area by providing wider streets to avoid traffic jams and business-supported parking so that it doesn’t cost me so much get out of my car. Those of us who like to walk will make use of it if you make it attractive, but by making it highly unattractive, the Planners force us to vote with our tires and shop in the Box Belt.

Ooops!

Slaves Don’t Need to Be Smart   Leave a comment

Fairbanks just had its local elections. We were voting on the City mayor, some School Board seats, some Borough Assembly seats and some bond issues.

I think local elections are far more important than presidential elections because what happens locally affects us way more than what happens in DC. DC can pass all the administrative lunacy it wants and it wouldn’t matter if local officials had backbones and told them to go pound sand.

So, this election had a clear choice of City mayor. The current mayor is a business man who wanted to serve the community for a couple of years and then go back to his business. He’s done that and he’s doing that. Neither candidate, in my opinion, was of the same caliber as Jerry Cleworth, but there was a clear choice. The fiscally conservative small business owner who had a fairly consistent conservative voting record while on the City Council or the labor lawyer who never saw a spending ordinance he didn’t like while he was on the City Council. The conservative said she would follow a policy of not increasing the budget or dipping into the municipal savings account. The labor lawyer said he was planning to give the city employees (already the highest paid workers in town) a raise and that he saw no problem with this because we have a savings account. The newspaper comments showed people pretty much didn’t like John Eberhart’s spending plan, but they thought Vivian Stiver didn’t have enough experience running large businesses to be qualified as mayor. Which was odd because Jerry Cleworth was also a small business owner with no large business experience and he’s been great, according to almost everyone except the labor unions.

School Board and Borough Assembly seats are non-partisan. It was a mixed bag on the people who won. Some will be good. Some will be bad.

The bond issues were the most worrisome. The School District wanted us to bond to replace a school that is only 40 years old because, they said, it was structurally deficient and not earthquake safe. Except that in 2002, Ryan Junior High withstood a 7.9 magnitude quake and suffered ZERO damage. That’s the largest quake Fairbanks has experienced in recorded history. So what’s the problem with Ryan. The bond issue would more than double our indebtedness and come to the highest level of indebtedness that the Borough has ever had, including during the Pipeline days when we built multiple schools very rapidly because of incredible population increases.

Seems like a no-brainer. Vote for the fiscal conservative for City Mayor and vote down the bond issues. If you read the newspaper comments, you’d have thought that would be the outcome.

But …

Only 14% of registered voters showed up for the election. The bond issues passed with 60% margins and John Eberhart will be our new mayor. There goes the City’s savings account. We’re now deeply in debt as a community (or will be by spring, anyway). We’re going to give overpaid workers a raise.

I previously posted that I thought Fairbanks had finally begun to reap the benefits of years of fiscal sanity.

Guess not.

And that, folks, is why the whole system from DC to Podunck is going to come crashing down. It’s pretty to think that a return to federalism will fix things, but I’m starting to think it won’t. We as a people are apparently too stupid to come in out of the rain. Maybe we’ll get smarter after the UN allows China to annex us for the purposes of paying our debt.

Of course, how smart we become then won’t matter. Slaves don’t need to be smart.

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