Friday, August 01, 2008

The fix is in for Sacramento commuters

Well, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has made its transportation plans, and it appears that the fix is in for us hard pressed commuters.

Click here to go directly to the survey.

I should have been paying attention sooner. In any case, the survey continues until Labor Day and it's not too late to register your point of view to The Powers That Be at Regional Transit (RT), for what little that is worth.

Looking at the three choices presented to us, it becomes clear that the luddite goons and ECOmmunistS aren't content to stop road improvements, they want to saddle us with trolleys. And they have the ears of whoever runs RT. These trolleys have incredibly high fixed costs, so they are more expensive than simply increasing bus service in the areas where they are to be placed. They do not have exclusive rights of way and will only take space away from buses and cars, and thus congest streets further. But hey, for the ECOmradeS, that's the idea, isn't it?

But let us look over the three options:

Option A: Probably the least objectionable and most realistic. Double tracking on the Blue Line bottlenecks from downtown to Watt and I-80 would certainly help, as would an extension to Cosumnes River College (assuming the flyover ramps and exclusive right of way option at the RT website).

However, a light rail Stub to Richards Boulevard? Gee, how about a vehicle bridge between Truxel and 7th/8th streets that buses and even cars (gasp!) could go on? I know, cars are evil and we must all ride unicycles... never mind that people will use their cars anyway from Natomas to Downtown and turn I-5 from Natomas to Downtown into a permanently congested mess. Already RT runs bus lines between Natomas and Downtown that could easily be routed to serve the new Railyards urban renewal area if there was just a BRIDGE across the American River at Truxel.

Option B: The Trolley Wanking begins here. Not everything about this option is awful: The Gold Line to Folsom could use a good double tracking. However, couldn't they just do the Gold line double tracking with the money they intend to waste on the Richards Boulevard stub in Option A?

Trolley systems for downtown / West Sac and Rancho Cordova? As if expanded Neighborhood Ride shuttles couldn't achieve the same ridership at a fraction of the cost? What crack are they smoking?

But that's not the worst of it. Just think about where these trolley lines will go. That's right, at street level, taking away badly needed road space. It would be one thing if a new trolley line to West Sac was built as an extension of the existing RT line at R Street (where a railroad overpass already exists over I-5), and then on a *new* bridge over the Sacramento River from there. But will that happen? Noooooo. Instead that new trolley will putt-putt-butt-plug its way across the Tower Bridge, taking away already strained road space. Ditto for whatever they want to build in "Raunchy Cadaver".

Moreover, will an airport rail line really outdo Yolobus to the airport in terms of service? At least in this option they are beginning to think of a New Bridge at Truxel, which is a must. But I suspect that once again the new RT line will not be elevated and will putter its way at street level. In general, LRT at street level just is more congestion--if you are going to expand the Rail system at all, give it grade separation and it's own right of way.

Option C: Now this option just has to be a masturbatory fantasy of trolley fetishists. Gold Line towards El Dorado County? On an old railroad line that was used by loggers and meanders its way to Placerville? And yet more pathetic trolleys that poke along on street level, taking away badly needed lanes on Arden, Fair Oaks, Howe and J Streets! Once more: If you are going to build rail lines at all, build them with exclusive rights of way and grade separation.

So what are we to do?

1. *Don't* renew the Measure A half-cent sales tax. In the absence of ironclad language that says the revenue will go to real road improvements, all the money will only go to trolley fetishists.

2. *Don't* approve any additional tax, unless the initiative somehow has ironclad language that says the revenue will go to real road improvements. (Given shifty judges and shysters, I'd even be a bit skeptical here)

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