Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Actually, transit should probably be transit, primarily

I'm as excited as the next guy for New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge passenger rail and all.  But I'm not exactly holding my breath for this.
Planners in charge of the long-discussed Baton Rouge-New Orleans passenger rail service will unveil conceptual designs for the two rail stations in the Capital City Tuesday evening at a public meeting designed to gain input and provide and update on the project.

The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority and HNTB, the consulting firm hired to explore the rail service project, will host the meeting at 6 p.m. in the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church at 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive. The organizations in recent months have conducted technical analysis, met with political and community leaders in the proposed areas and designed the preliminary concepts for two “state-of-the-art, multi-modal” rail stations.
"Conceptual," is the operative term in that first paragraph.  Rest assured we're not anywhere close to getting anything built yet. Not with this state fiscal climate or the current federal political nightmare serving as context.  You aren't going to get any infrastructure built without first raising a ton of money from people who can't afford to pay and second handing that money over to one or several corrupt "private partners."

So it's probably a good thing that this thing isn't especially close to being a shovel-ready project at the moment. Otherwise we wouldn't be designing transit for people so much as building some developer's "economic development engine."
Jones said the rail stations could also include retail, residential or office developments, as well as sponsorships, to make them into economic development engines.

"The most successful projects of this type around the country are not transit centers in and of themselves but are part of a more attractive development that includes a lot of commercial and pedestrian activity," Jones said.

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