I'm not running for anything, but I'll be devoting random posts in December to civic goals for the year 2013.
Topping my list is complete streets: "A holistic approach that makes the streets, intersections and neighborhoods more accessible to walkers, bikers and mass transit." It would be interesting to know how many elected officials in this city have so much as considered such an idea. I know one who has not.
During Year Two of the Gahan administration, articulating and implementing a program of evolution toward complete streets in New Albany is a policy that can address multiple needs with one throw.
1. Complete streets are a means of transforming the urban street grid into a diverse, human friendly mechanism for growth.
2. This enhances prospects for the further expansion of retail, offices and even housing downtown, and of connecting downtown to outlying areas by means of the Greenway and other routes radiating outward.
3. Critically, boldness is needed right now, because the closer we get to a tolling regime on some Ohio River Bridges and not on others (read: Sherman Minton), the more likely that New Albany's current one-way street grid reverts to abuse by no-stop pass-throughs to the detriment of any human scale reform. It is time to act.
Here's the plan for Toll Free New Albany, as originally proposed back in August.
If bridge tolls eventually become reality, three things need to happen.
First, we must consider the status of the Sherman Minton Bridge – New Albany’s bane as recently as last year, when it was closed for repairs, but in the future, potential symbol of our civic free lunch.
As a disclaimer, label me skeptical. In spite of the oligarch cadre’s insistence, the mere existence of Horseshoe Casino, and the need for untrammeled (read: untolled) access to the all-night gaming we depend on to indirectly fund waning social programs probably will not permanently spare the Sherman Minton from taxation.
However, for so long as it remains safely off the tolling grid, the city of New Albany has a tailor-made, providential civic slogan, one we must repeat over and over:
“TOLL FREE NEW ALBANY”
Forget Trickle Back City, Open for Business, Riverview is Our Savior and all the other half-baked suggestions that make reasonable people wonder whether we’ve lost our minds. Compared with our brethren over in Jeffersonville, who are about to be relentlessly pulverized, first with unnecessary downtown bridge construction detritus, delays and clutter, and then, when all of it has been nicely carted off and paved, with the sheer villainy of tolls themselves, New Albany will be able to market itself as an island of sanity amid the turbulence of KStem’s self-serving tumescence.
Second, seeing as this potential New Albany advantage has one significant drawback, we must reverse decades of Real-time, Caesaresque inertia and get radical, aggressive and determined about our own streets, what they mean for the people who live here, and what we can do to facilitate them for use by people as well as automobiles.
It should suffice to say that maintaining our holy writ of a quasi-Stalinist 1960’s grid of one-way speed enhancers, with the novel magnet of an untolled Sherman Minton Bridge attracting drive-throughs and fly-overs through the city’s neighborhoods in unprecedented numbers, traveling as quickly as possible to save two bucks, and ignoring what we have to offer as they put the pedal to the metal, would be suicidal to our future prospects.
They will not stop here any more than casino clients already do (they don’t). Let’s “complete” New Albany’s streets now, and cure with a dose of intelligent design the illnesses we now try to “treat” with old-fashioned Georgia speed traps.
Third, let’s resolve to never forget that the ORBP is happening not because of genuine concerns for safety, or comprehensive thoughts for the future of transportation in the metro Louisville statistical area, or whatever other drivel we’ve been fed in a effort to solicit support for the project where precious little exists among just plain folks.
Rather, this is happening because the oligarchs and their ancillaries need to make their money the Mitt Romney way, in the exurbs, at places like River Ridge, where the jobs added by the likes of Amazon can only subtract independent small businesses from their homes down the street in the urban core.
In short, the ORBP is capitalism all right, but in a very restricted, profit-making sense of channeling the largess in directions so obvious that Nostradamus needn’t return to help us guess.
From the ORBP’s beginning until now, it has been representative of American robber baron capitalism of the old, heavy, monopolistic school, where Gohmann Asphalt’s soulless flunkies issue pious public intonations of “for your own safety” even as they ink the bids for the business constructing the project itself, “sealing” the deal with watery Bud Light Limes at a vapid chain restaurant somewhere on Veteran’s Parkway.
Thus, my third suggested bit of pre- and post-tolling therapy is simply this: Let’s never forget from whence this foolishness has emanated. Granted, we cannot vote against the likes of Kerry Stemler, Steve Schultz and the rest of their merrily fluffing oligarch’s advancement society.
However, politicians are another matter, and when it comes to the ORBP and the likelihood of the regressive tax we’re all still euphemistically referring to as “tolls,” we have a clear idea of who is responsible.