Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
An estimated 80 Tucsonans attended the public meeting of the Citizens Task Force (CTF) for the Broadway widening project last week. The main event of the meeting was a potential vote on the latest maps which show a wiggly, six-lane Broadway snaking around and through historic properties and strip malls.
Prior to the meeting, people were asked to submit opinions in writing regarding the latest version of the maps. (Read comments here. See the maps here.) According to the Broadway Coalition’s count, 171 comments raised concerns about widening Broadway to six lanes or were outright opposed to it; four comments were ambivalent; and only 12 were supportive of the city staff-proposed alignments. Attendees have told me that the call to the audience speeches were eloquent in their opposition to this project. (Unfortunately, no one videotaped the meeting.) The CTF did not approve the controversial maps last week; there will be another meeting this week on March 26.
This has been the history of the project. Over and over again in writing and at public meetings, Tucsonans have said very clearly that they don’t want Broadway expanded to look like the giant suburban intersections on the east side or on the northwest side AND they don’t want to lose the charm of the historic buildings along the Sunshine Mile coming out of downtown. Public comments and a report from the Broadway Coalition after the jump.
The written comments are poignant and scathing. This is just a tiny sample of the comments received between February 20 (when the latest plan was released) and March 11, 2015 (the end of the comment period).
“Moving forward with the proposed plans on Broadway is against all common sense and reason. Few people and businesses support the plan, it is completely un-necessary by any standards or data analysis…
“There is no mandate. There is no logic to removing buildings and increasing barriers and asphalt when even traffic counts don’t support the plan.”
“Unfortunately, residents most impacted by the Broadway Project have found reason to question the effectiveness of its public process from the start. When the Broadway Project staff released a document Feb 20, 2015 entitled “Work in Progress”, the reaction was correctly negative, particularly since that docdcument lacked substantial details and offered no explanations as to what necessitated design elements that went contrart to the Citizen Task Force recommendations. It was stated that this is a “work in progress”, with an inflexible final date for comments from citizens, for whom the road improvements are presumable intended, but a flexible date to reveal key elements of the plan.
“There is an old adage: there are two stages to the public policy process: too early to tell and too late do do anything about it. When presented a plan of action which will have an enormous impact on two miles of Broadway Blvd. on which jeopardizes features which will never be able to be recreated, which carries a potential price tag which the City cannot afford, which is based upon decades-old traffic projections, the public can only wonder which of the two stages we are now in…
“The Citizens Task Force, which worked for nearly 3 years, produced a document, “CTF Recommendations for Refinements to 6 Lane Including Transit Alignment Design, as of December 4, 2014. Have the City staff and consultants been told that it is their responsibility for the design to be based upon those ideas? How do we value these citizens’ input, an input that was mandated by the City? What has happened to the input from the numerous Public Meetings?
“I am strongly against the proposed plan that is unnecessary and wasteful”
“Most simply put, DON’T. This is a totally unnecessary glamor (sic) project that does nothing for Tucson and will cause a great deal of harm. The anger it is generating will reverberate for decases to come. Rincon Heights neighborhood and historic structures along the alignment are architectural and historic treasures that cannot be replaced. My tax dollars would be better used by merely repaving existing crumbling, potholed surface streets.
“As envisioned, this project is so tricked out it will be a disaster if even begun.”
“The Broadway Boulevard Project appears to have no basis other than a study which was conducted years ago and hasn’t proven to be correct. It is deplorable that so many buidlings will be demolished for this project which is not necessary. Moving forward with this project proves that Tucson is not a friendly place for small or medium sized businesses.
“Please consider placing the funds towards (sic) fixing the drainage problems in our town and the horrible pot holes which are a major safety concern. If the funds cannot be used for anything other than this project, then please make the courageous decision to forego the project and lose the funds. It would be better to lose the funds than to waste millions of dollars on a project that only closes local businesses and doesn’t provide the city with any real value.”
“Yes, there have been four public meetings. All of them were dominated by comments NOT in favor of widening Broadway and by our concerns with the destruction of adjacent neighborhoods and their historic status. Citizens have pleaded with the board members to consider life styles and the history represented in the Sunshine Mile. Business owners have lived in limbo with the project.
“An important concern is that the current traffic numbers do not live up to the projected numbers that were used to justify widening Broadway.
“I feel the meetings were a total waste of time! Our concerns were ignored!
“…I’m encouraging you to save the future and the history of our city before it is destroyed. As I said in the city council meeting addressing this issue: “You will be judged not by what you create, but what you do not destroy!”
“The RTA seems to be willfully deaf and blind (no disrespect to those legitimately so) when it comes to respecting/taking into account public input. The RTA is also stubbornly adhering to vastly outdated studies, running in contrvention to present-day trends and realities.
“When the RTA plan was approved by the voters way back when, there was no breakdown for projects, just a blanket yes/no. Since then, businesses and the public have loudly and repeatedly stated what is in the interests of the majority:
* PLEASANT HISTORIC BUSINESS DISTRICT
* LESS TRAFFIC, MORE TRANSIT, BIKES, PEDESTRIANS
“This begs the question: WHO BENEFITS? WHO ARE THESE SO-CALLED PUBLIC SERVANTS? WHO IS PAYING THEM?
“Wake up, RTA! You are living in the past millenium, the coffee is burnt, and Alice has left Wonderland. Only you remain.” [All caps are the author’s emphasis.]
Report from the Broadway Coalition’s March 22 newsletter…
About 80 people attended the March 19 Citizen Task Force meeting for the Broadway project. The CTF could not reach a decision on a recommendation and so agreed to meet next week, Thursday, March 26. They did not announce a location for the meeting.
Thank you all for sending in your comments. We counted those comments that made the March 11 deadline and 171 comments raised questions or were opposed to the proposed alignment, 4 were ambivalent and 12 (6%) were supportive of the staff alignment.
Colby Henley, a CTF member from Rincon Heights asked staff to explain how the Task Force’s recommendation of 6 lanes including transit, which was adopted by the Mayor and Council morphed into 6 lanes with bus pullouts (not transit friendly) at the RTA Management Committee Meeting. After repeated questions, the best answer was that “important people” required the change.
Beth Abramovitz, PE has been named as co-project manager to help with the engineering phase. She is also managing the Grant Road widening project. She talked about some of the efforts she has made on Grant to change the engineering drawings to save buildings.
The City of Tucson staff have posted Part 2 (March 13, 2015) Staff Recommended 6-Lane Including Transit Refined Alignment Report available at www.tucsonaz.gov/broadway. This 82-page report has CTF comments and the public comments received as of March 11, 2015 with staff replies to the comments. The Technical Advisory Committee Comments are also included as well as an analysis comparing options for pedestrian environment. If you sent in a comment, you might want to check to see if they included it (we have found at least one instance where a comment was not included) and also how staff responded to what was said.
Thank you for your continuing interest. We will let you know the details of the next meeting as soon as we learn them. Stay tuned to this ongoing effort and come to the next CTF meeting to hear for yourselves.