Monday, March 14, 2005

Planes, Trains, and Lambs

I've already savaged Michael Lamb's quest for Mayor here, but Mikey keeps churning out ideas, so I have to keep making up witty retorts.

This is a follow-up to Friday's critique of his high speed rail plans; Mikey has more transit/transportation ideas here. You don't have time to read them all, so I will summarize, leaving out all of Lamb's generous, but colorful, expletives.

The Overview:

Transit Funding/Dedicated Funding Source (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "The absence of a dedicated funding source puts the City and Allegheny County at a competitive disadvantage in the competition for “New Start Funding” from the Federal Transit Administration."
>Proposed Solution: Advocacy for Funding.
>Analysis: The Mayor of Pittsburgh has no power here. Be gone, before someone drops a house on you!

High Speed Rail (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "Landing [the MagLev] industry in Pittsburgh would mean tens of thousands of jobs and exciting new technology in the areas of precision manufacturing and advanced transportation."
>Proposed Solution: Advocacy for Funding.
>Analysis: "Begging" is a reoccuring campaign theme here.

North Shore Connector (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: Light Rail serves to compliment proposed and existing development, but does not go far enough.
>Proposed Solution: Support for funding.
>Analysis: This will cut into Mike's support for our troops.

Commuter Rail/Hazelwood to Downtown (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "A transit link from downtown to Oakland has been discussed in Pittsburgh for years. The Oakland area is the third largest center of economic activity in the state of Pennsylvania and linking it to downtown could be a huge benefit to the City."
>Proposed Solution: Mike commits to planning.
>Analysis: Let's all go get liquored up and have a committee. Interesting historical fact: this is actually how the Pittsburgh Public School Board orignally started.

Mon-Fayette Toll Road (Mike's Mostly Against it.)
>Identified Problem: Numerous. "This hugely expensive and controversial proposal would be one of the largest public works projects in Pennsylvania would be financed by taxes on all Pennsylvania residents rather than from tolls collected on the road...devastation of communities like Hazelwood and adverse effects on areas like Nine Mile Run and Duck Hollow." Etc.
>Proposed Solution: Mike supports building to Monroeville, not through Hazelwood.
>Analysis: Michael Lamb vs. Mosites, P.J. Dick, et al. Never mess around with contractors who want jobs and have bulldozers and concrete at their disposal.

Route 28 Reconstruction/Troy Hill (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "Route 28 in the vicinity of the 31st Street Bridge is a traffic nightmare."
>Proposed Solution: Mike commits to reach goals and to seek funding.
>Analysis: Nothing to see here... move along.

South Side/Quiet Zone (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "[The Railroad] whistles which are sounded at 10th and 18th Streets railroad street crossings while essential are a nuisance.
>Proposed Solution: Work with FRA and CSX to establish "Quiet Zones".
>Analysis: Quiet Zones don't exist yet; municipalities have little control over the Railroads. ["I think I can... I think I can... I think I can..."]

Traffic Signals (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: Traffic signals are not syncronized.
>Proposed Solution: City should complete its traffic management plan.
>Analysis: City Planning fired the traffic planner as per Act 47. Whoops!

Regional Transportation Planning; Pittsburgh’s Role (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "Federal law requires that metropolitan regions like Pittsburgh have in place a 'metropolitan planning organization' or 'MPO' which establishes the transportation priorities for the region and determines the allocation of transportation funds, federal and state. "
>Proposed Solution: As Mayor, Mike will be personally involved as an active, participating member of the Commission.
>Analysis: Way to follow the law there Mike.

Water Transportation (Mike's For it.)
>Identified Problem: "We are experiencing a change of focus and an expansion of our use of the rivers."
>Proposed Solution: "We need to find the best means of making this water transportation a welcoming and cost-effective reality."
>Analysis: I long for the day where I can travel from the Southside to Shadyside via Water Taxi. Water transportation will only be efficient once there's a critical mass of stuff to do on the water front.

Mike is trying really hard in all these areas to offer policy items that are practical, fresh, and/or interesting. Unfortunately, so little of what he's proposing is actually within the pervue of the Office of Mayor. Mike might as well promise to bring in Luck Dragons to sing us all lullabyes.

I appretiate the ideas that Mike is trying espouse here, but they are little more than vague promises, with not much in terms of... say... substance.

Out of all the ideas he puts forward, only one (the Traffic coordination) is really within his [potential] power. It would be better if Mike stuck to promising to salt the streets, pave the potholes, and make sure that the 31st Street Bridge doesn't go crashing into the Allegheny. At least those are some reasonable, attainable objectives, as banal as they are. Promising high speed rail is like promising health care for the city's lower-income children.

Wait a sec...

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