Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Riders always come last

RTA (and Ron Forman's con-profit) have begrudgingly agreed to build a pedestrian bridge to the new Algiers Ferry terminal. They weren't going to do this initially but only agreed to do so after repeated pleas from riders who would very much not like to be run over or made unnecessarily late by trains on their way to work. 

Even after agreeing to build the bridge, though, the decision-makers absolutely refused to cover it.  This was because 1) they hate hate hate homeless people and 2) that's about it.
Pressed by Guidry, Berni further hinted that aside from added costs, one impetus for keeping the bridge roofless might be to discourage homeless people from being there.

"Yeah, I think that's probably one reason," Berni said. "But I'm sure there are many others, including cost."
"Cost" couldn't have been too big a factor there. We know this now because they're thinking about buying all this fancy stuff
Since late July, records show the firm designing the bridge, Manning Architects, has sent city and transit officials several preliminary budget drafts detailing costs. A first draft of that budget, dated July 20, pegged total estimated costs for the bridge at just under $5 million, up from officials' initial estimate of $2.6 million to $3 million in March.

Eight days later on July 28, the bridge's draft budget swelled to between $7.8 million and $8.3 million, largely due to the appearance of a new line item called "Add LED." That item - which later budget drafts revised to "Add Video Board" - would cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.

Manning's preliminary budget has also included three "contingency" costs, fluctuating in draft iterations from around $400,000 on July 20 to above $1.2 million on July 28 then back down to about $750,000 in the budget's most recent Sept. 27 draft.

It's unclear what exactly the "Video Board" line item represents, or if it would make it into the final budget cut. Officials say that budget, as well as the bridge's final design, would be set only after a cooperative endeavor agreement is signed by RTA, the city and the Audubon Nature Institute, which owns land next to its aquarium where the bridge is expected to be built.
In recent years, commuters who had depended on the ferries have endured fare hikes, limited hours, and limited functionality as the car-carrying boats were replaced with pedestrian-only service. They've had to jump up and down just to get this bridge included in the terminal design.  But Audubon can always get whatever they want just by adding a line item in the plan somewhere. Just another reminder of who the city leaders believe they're actually providing services for.

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