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March 29, 2010


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I still remember that morning. Eugene Pulliam wrote a front-page editorial arguing against the Papago Freeway that was coming up for a vote. I believe he cited freeway-free Santa Barbara, where he lived part-time, as a beautiful counterexample to LA. Pulliam's hardboiled conservatism had just enough heart to know what would happen. The year was 1973 and Phoenix still had enough soul to agree.

It's impossible to imagine a conservative today taking that kind of stand. Today the idolization of the free market is so complete that any impediment to Growth becomes a de facto evil. The old-guard conservatives still had some other values to consider since Republicanism hadn't been completely Reaganized. But the tide was already turning. Soon, anti-environmentalism would be a major conservative cause.

The Moreland Corridor had been cleared by the mid-60s. Historic preservation wasn't on the radar screen here then, so there were no protests that I can recall. The houses were some of the grandest in central Phoenix but they were old and devalued in an era still high on modernism.

By the 80s with I-10 back on track, Jack Williams and Paul Fannin made sure Kenilworth was spared. The corridor had to dip a bit south to compensate and took out some blocks of Latham. Then the design widened a bit more and crucial blocks of Culver fell. By this time, Phoenix did have some preservation consciousness and there were some painful moments as we watched some lovely period houses fall.

I was there when I-10 was finally completed in July of 1990. There was a celebration in the tunnel under Deck Park but a thunderstorm broke out and ended the festivities early. I bicycled home, water up to my ankles, down an old concrete street now vanished in the flood.

soleri, I think your distinction between Pulliam and typical conservatives is a noteworthy one that also invokes Mr. Talton's previous writing about the conservative culture of Phoenix's past, versus that of today. What is conservative about a 100% government subsidized freeway plan with limited funding available from its users, via gas taxes. This to me seems like the opposite of conservatism -- even more so than subsidized commuter rail that at least has the potential to turn a profit someday.

Because of past growth in the Phoenix area, I believe that we should finish building out the current regional freeway plan (as I remain dumbfounded about how certain projects on the fringes get prioritized over other ones) -- and yes, I know that this is an unpopular view here. But then I also believe that it's time to cut back on these incredibly costly plans to move people across our vast metropolis and focus on a more sustainable model for the future.

Light rail should have spurs to the south and northwest from downtown Phoenix, as well as into downtown Scottsdale and perhaps into the Biltmore corridor, among other areas that would serve our current population and encourage better infill opportunities. Then, there should be a commuter rail line connecting Phoenix to Tucson, via Casa Grande, much like Greyhound's local route (which I actually thought was quite pleasant when I used it in college). But I'm less sure about the plans for rail headed northward out of Phoenix, since most drawings indicate that it would merely skirt Prescott to the west before heading into less developed areas in Chino Valley, while skipping the already growing Prescott Valley and Verde/Cottonwood areas.... but I digress.

Having finally seen the direct benefits to riders and regional redevelopment efforts from our newly functioning light rail system, I'd think that we have plenty of room for common sense to steer a new regional plan. No?

Biased bull. You cannot solve congestion by expanding capacity for a non congested mode. Only sixty percent of LA's freeways were built. If they were all built, and the proposed freeways in Phoenix were built, rush hours would be vastly different. The whole article is biased, one sided, and a poor example of journalism.

No, San Diego completed their freeway system and traffic there is such that they keep widening and widening. If you build and you have a vibrant economy, you'll never stop having to widen. Or you could build enough freeways such that it chases businesses out. No one ever accuses Cleveland or Detroit of having traffic problems.

Some so called journalist. Anybody that lived here during that timeframe fully understands that the delay of the Papago freeway caused huge congestion problems. Those of us that were poor or middle class and had to commute across town for jobs well understood the need for freeways. We weren't among the urban luddites who had the luxury of riding their little two-wheelers to work in the morning or taking a leisurely stroll. We were busy working our asses off and time was money. And you're right. The poor didn't care about views, they cared about feeding their families and having time to spend with them. You elitists make me sick.

Even then. On the sixty.
No one really “commuted”. Truckers!? Harlow s had a stop for truckers duh Broadmor’s my new mschool yo

The lifeblood, yet the bane of cities.
Population and traffic. Both are needed for a vibrant economic and social environment. But let it go uncontrolled, and problems develop. Find a large American city's population today without similar complaints as Phoenicians. I can't. 9 to 5 work hours at one office or factory is becoming rare. A transit system needs that kind of ridership to be successful. Most jobs require mobility and equipment making mass transit impractical. (job site, customer, etc.)
So roads most definitely aren't going away. Soooo,what to do about population? That's the real issue. I don't know of any American city that has put a "No Growth" statute into effect. It might not even be enforceable. But as long as Phoenix (I mean "the Valley", but that term is annoying) is a place that folks want to move to, how do you say "NO" ?

Phoenix has been "sucking" exhaust smoke and traffic jams since the freeways took over The Valley after WWII.
It it has traded its character and charm for a mishmash of poorly planned and ill-conceived freeways.

And a stop light on the 51.

While freeways are not the end-all to congestion and not for every city, at least it moves people from A to B. I remember when it took forever to get from one side of Phoenix to the other without freeways. Widening of city streets could only go so far before something had to give! I grew up in Tucson before living in Phoenix and today they are still a NO FREEWAYS urban area full of NIMBY'S (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) radicals and the majority of Tucson's traffic putts along on city streets and backups that continue to choke the air with exhaust. Tucson's attitude was "If we build freeways more cars will come" Too late, major traffic has been there for years. It will only get worse. Infrastructure does count.

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