I obviously missed the story that spawned this editorial, but I agree 100% with its arguments and conclusions. Building a toll road through the Heights so that commuters from the far reaches of the 290 Corridor can get downtown a little faster is head-slappingly stupid.
Does it really make sense to damage the quality of life in inner-city areas where residents have chosen to raise their families so someone who lives in the suburbs can shave a few minutes off their drive-time? What is the purpose of the city's new mass transit strategy if not to reduce the volume of cars coming into the city?
This is the toll road version of folk singer Joni Mitchell's famous lyric: "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
District H Councilman Adrian Garcia says such a toll road would "wreak havoc" in the area. He also believes citizen groups should have been consulted before the county approved negotiations to take over the rail line.
Harris County Toll Road Authority spokeswoman Patricia Friese claims the hubbub over the possible use of the former rail line as a toll road is "premature." Yet she also admits that if her agency gets the property, it would likely build the road. "The worst-case scenario," comments Friese, "is that you'll have a toll road instead of a rail line."
That ignores the reality that the rail line is long gone. The city shouldn't sit back and allow a worst-case scenario to unfold in the Heights.
I should mention there's already a freight train that runs through the Heights, too. It's on a track near Washington and Center Streets, and though it's a bit more than a mile from my house at its closest point, I can still hear the train whistles from my bedroom. They're usually blowing in the predawn hours. Just so you know.Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 29, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack