Garland Street Tunnel: Costs Begin To Rise (Already)
Crank it Anytime: The Rant Series
It’s not been a month since the Downtown Development Authority and the City Commission voted to move forward with building a pedestrian tunnel connecting Garland St. to bayfront parkland and the costs are already rising. According to an article in today’s Record Eagle (behind paywall), the cost of the utility relocation could add $400,000 to the overall cost, originally set at $1.1 million.
This was not unforeseeable; it was predictable. A full, transparent study needed to be part of the discussion when the DDA and the City Commission originally began to explore the concept. Instead, this 30-year-old idea, which has had proponents for that long or longer, was rushed to meet the timeframe of an adjacent development project. Blame for the oversight is shared among proponents, staff and those representing the public interest who voted to clear the $1.1 million in order to speed up the process and take advantage of the 2011 construction of the Hotel Indigo.
What’s really bothersome is that if they choose to go ahead, despite the extra cost, it will signal once again mis-guided priorities. Approval and locating the extra money to be certain the tunnel is built, no matter what, will signal the valuing of basic engineering over design: achieving results without attention to detail. Yet, to actually slow down and build a tunnel that will be an attraction and designed to the fit the challenged landscape was never a high priority. And, to be honest, not something that should be a priority anyway. The priority is continuing to focus on the over-all goal of putting the park back into the parkway, not burying people.
Despite the misunderstanding by some of the decision makers, the alternatives for intensive street-scaping and enhanced crosswalks (Plan for TC) is not simply a beautification project: it has real cognitive influence on driver behavior. Traffic calming on the edges of a roadway aren’t an over-all solution, but they are part of the mix and something the City can carry out quickly and robustly along the corridor. That $1.4 million (and climbing) would go a long way in improving the area in the DDA purview. (In fact, even if the tunnel remains popular, the construction of it needs to include surface level improvements in the construction zone.)
I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I simply don’t believe that the money is well spent on a mediocre tunnel that is 15 ft wide and 90 feet long, without the assistance of topography, location and more money. It is a difficult challenge to make a friendly tunnel and I think the pitch-job by proponents was overly optimistic. I fully suspect this to be the first increase in cost if it is to be built right. Of course, the process for designing the tunnel has also been set up to fail. They didn’t ask, “build us a tunnel that will attract people.” They simply asked, build us a tunnel for $1.1-million. Oh, wait, make that $1.4-million.
Smart Commute Week Expands to the Weekend
~ by Lee Maynard
In Athens, Georgia, my hometown and Texas A&M University, where I went to college, every fall extremely highly valued, highly used and even privately owned parking spaces are flipped for people to use. Parking lots, city-wide and across campus, are transformed overnight into makeshift temporary picnic areas creating a sea of pedestrian friendly parties revolving around alcohol consumption (they are college towns), corn hole games and cook outs in celebration of SEC or Big 12 football- a mainstay cultural obsession of these communities.
Since living in Traverse City I’ve swapped tailgating for trekking and I enjoy spending Saturdays celebrating our region’s beautiful natural resources. As the Program Director of TART Trails, I’m interested in utilizing Traverse City’s wonderful public spaces for fun public events.
An example of this is this year’s celebration of Smart Commute Week. Working in partnership with the DDA, it’d be cool to use the ground floor of the Old Town Parking Garage on Saturday, June 11 for a bike swap event. The space will be used to host a bike swap catering to all ages and riding abilities in hopes to get more people peddling around this summer. Proceeds of the bike swap benefit TART’s Recycle A Bicycle program that provides refurbished bikes to economically disadvantaged community members.
What do you think?
The DDA Board and TART next meet to discuss this exciting new multi-use of public space at the DDA meeting on March 18th. We warmly welcome your support and we are excited for these fun new festivities celebrating this year’s Smart Commute Week!
If you’re interested in sponsoring, volunteering or being more engaged with Smart Commute Week please contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR’S NOTE: I forgot to ask Lee, but what do we call tailgating with bikes? Tail-wheeling?