Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Future of Boulder Transportation

by Osman Parvez
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If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're well aware of upcoming transportation and other infrastructure changes in and around Boulder. The changes will be substantial and have long term impact to our community. Development plans are being drawn up for and around Transit Village and there are massive upgrades planned for US36. We've attended a number of meetings on the subject and I've written about it several times in the past.

Today, columnist Robert Greenlee chimed in with a critical editorial in the Camera. His piece lashes out at City transportation planners. He writes,

When it comes to transportation planning, Boulder is still a city with a village mentality. Transportation planners here apparently despise cars, hate highways, discourage efficient roadway planning, and believe in fantasies to create dream-world multi-modalism. Unfortunately for citizens, they merely tolerate the reality of how people actually get around. They particularly dislike rational transportation planners who speak truth to their powerful fantasies.
For the record, I'm on the opposite side of the fence to Greenlee. I strongly support more alternative and public transit infrastructure between Denver and Boulder. The bike path to Denver and better/faster public transit modes will be a long term benefit to our region. Transit oriented development is a step in the right direction, away from a car centric lifestyle and oil dependency. Selling real estate in this community, I can also attest that this is something many Boulderites are seeking.

Some of Greenlee's thoughts are also a little misdirected. For instance, he seems to believe that the lead manager of the EIS (Rick Pilgrim) is alone responsible for determining the infrastructure needs of Boulder. That suggests a serious lack of understanding of the process. Of course, the process itself can be something difficult to get your head around.

In any case, if you care about this stuff (and you should), there is still plenty of opportunity to throw your two cents into the ring. And that's the most important point.

p.s. At the meetings I've attended, time and again I've seen local residents share concerns with planners. Each time, the officials have been polite, respectful, and interested in what people have to say, even in the face of hostility. It's evident to me that they're working hard to communicate with the constituents of Boulder, developing a shared vision for the future as well as working to understand the concerns. We owe them our thanks, not our disdain.


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1 comment:

  1. There are elements of truth in Mr. Greenlee's editorial, as well as misguided criticisms. I agree that the Foothills Pkwy is half complete, and that it was a mistake to not build more overpasses (ask the folks who get in accidents every month or two at Foothills and Jay) - his point about idling cars is a good one as well. You point, Osman, that Boulderites (-ados? istas? ;> ) prefer modes of transport involving sweat as opposed to gasoline is a good one. It is a preference of millions of Americans today as well, I believe, particularly younger generations (sub-BBoomer perhaps). The real issue here is an economic one, as traffic (everything?) in America always is below the surface. The people clogging the streets and highways in, around, and between Boulder and Denver are most often commuting to work. Give folks the option of residing within a half mile or so of their place of employment and I believe they would choose it and walk or bike to work, happily. Boulder's anti-density building policies and open-space buffer have pushed supply low, demand has therefore risen along with prices, and most working folks therefore need to look in neighboring communities for an affordable place to live, hence the traffic. It's a vicious cycle, I'm afraid, and one that will take a consortium of brave public officials, builders, developers, and the community at large to resolve.

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