Friday, January 26, 2007

Broadway Road Diet Fiasco Continues

Some of the first posts I ever did was about the Broadway Road Diet here in Missoula. I have been against it for years yet the city continues to ignore the businesses downtown and force the road configuration down their throats.

There was a great article in the Missoulian today concerning the business's frustration with just that. The city really doesn't want to make any changes to the configuration. They say they want to listen to what everybody has to say but in doing so, they continue to put off the real issue. The diet is a failure. The only reason for it was the Liberal City Planners, King and Bender, wanted to be recognized by their friends and peers as being progressive and enlightened by reducing traffic and putting in bike lanes (both are avid bikers). The issue of safety is a red herring as all the deaths on the stretch involved the victims and alcohol.

The city wants to "reframe" the discussion to that of what we do with the entire corridor instead of admitting the project was a colossal failure.

Missoula city officials are trying to reframe the conversation about West Broadway. They want the discussion to be about the entire area - not just one about lanes of pavement.

This, along with the Charette discussions last week, are clever ways of diverting attention from the real issue of the failure of the project to to that of how the entire area should be planned.

The business owners see right through the deception and are fed up with the entire fiasco.

Many business folks no longer attend meetings about the corridor. They're still disgruntled about the narrow street, and they don't trust city officials to listen to them.

Ask them about the big picture, and they point back to the road.

“We're both hoping that they change the streets back,” said Ford Johnson, who spoke for himself and Ken Thormablen of Ken's Barber Shop. The shop sits near Cedar Street and West Broadway.

Many business owners believe the city didn't listen to them the first time around, and they now refuse to give input. The city held brainstorming sessions last week, but business owners said this week that many members of their constituency were absent.

“Business people don't go to those meetings,” Johnson said.

“I got so angry and disgusted that I quit going,” said Terry Rice, who manages the Sweetheart Bakery.

She'd attended earlier meetings but they weren't worth her while, she said: “They weren't interested in what people had to say. It was a done deal.”

The Charette was a "kum-ba-ya" meeting where the following resulted:

A week ago Wednesday, more than 80 people offered ideas for how to make the corridor a “gateway” to Missoula's downtown. Then, the next night, the group put the best ideas into one grand plan for the corridor. They'd like an upscale area with dense development. They want a place where “young professionals” choose to live. They want to be able to walk to get a cup of coffee and pick up drycleaning.

Outcomes from the session could be years in the making, and people in the business community said this week that their minds are on immediate issues.

There didn't need to be a meeting at all. The solution is simple. Put the lanes back to four. Quit spending all the money and wasting everybody's time on all this progressive, feel-good, mumbo jumbo crap that means nothing.

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