Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Invest in FMSP and Animal Hiking Corridor OR the Trolley Folly?

Racetrack Drive to Spur 1966
Neighborhood Development Services sent out a pdf of a recent issue of the Border West Expressway newsletter showing how 1-10 and Spur 1966 will look once the job is completed. You can read that letter and see the pictures HERE. A prominent El Paso environmentalist commented: "Cement everywhere! How about some animal/hike/bike crossings?" She was referring to the long anticipated project at the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountain State Park - one that will benefit the park and spark ecotourism dollars for the city.

But the "cement" and the I-10/Spur 1966 projects are just really a part of the story. 

One wonders how much TxDOT Regional Engineer Bob Bielek's hands are tied when it comes to funding. We can interpret his delayed promises as deceit or we can interpret them as agony. Let's get to what is truly agonizing.

The mega projects such as I-10, the Spur, 375, 601, yada, yada, yada (not to mention the much less expensive animal corridor with a hike and bike trail that will connect the north and south parts of the FMSP at Transmountain) are not the first priority of the backroom movers and shakers of El Paso. What is? The trolley folly. Bielek has pointed out that El Paso may have the worst highways in the state. Yet, the priority is the $97 Million unnecessary trolley folly that will enrich a few, cost a bundle and will probably fail in a few years. (Or maybe it won't fail because "enlightened" city leaders like Niland, Romero and Noe will just vote to borrow more money and raise our property taxes more. We will subsidize the fat cats and a trolley system to nowhere.)

A trolley system (even with the expense of refurbishing our old Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars) might have had tourist attraction if built from the downtown historic district to the Magoffin House. However, you can forget that because there won't be a downtown historic district, there will be an arena taking over 12 blocks and paying lots of money to building owners who have never intended to renovate their buildings. That's my bet.

A trolley system at the airport could have been a tourist attraction or one through Segundo Barrio or one to the zoo. But no.

More people are leaving El Paso than other major cities in the nation. Passenger traffic at our airport is down 20%. And, according to Scientific American, our toxic air is harming our school children's progress. Yet, what's our priority? The trolley folly. It is this "priority" of our city policy makers that complicates funds for an animal corridor at Tom Mays.

So, my green friends, we can all blame Bob Bielek for the delay with the animal corridor, or we can blame the colonialism of our backroom wheelers and dealers who wield the power and bank the bucks in El Paso. As a linguist friend told me: "It isn't vox populi, it's hoax populi."

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