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    I dunno, Duke has power and precision in his bite.



    Gary Ridley – king of the revolving door at Oklakhoma’s Department of Transportation – making who works for ODOT and who works for the big contractors indistinguishable….



    “Complaining” about it?

    I’m telling you what happened and why – period. Calling the old Crosstown “a barrier” is more smarmy, insultingly absurd ODOT / OKC Chamber double talk. As we who opposed the unnecessary destruction of OKC Union Station stated through the years of that battle, “You haven’t SEEN ‘a barrier’ until you’ve tried to cross a 10-lane ditch full of semi-trailer trucks.” The proof is in the reality, today. The question is — why, in a city that already lost a major building to a truck bomb, is every hazardous load on I-40 deliberately routed through the middle of Oklahoma City? Anybody remember “truck bypasses?”

    “A project that made a neighborhood more attractive?” Sure — like Vietnam — “we’ll save the village by destroying it.” And, as I told the Latino Center people after their leader Pat Finnell led them into the laps of the big shots — “They’re gonna do for RIVERSIDE what they’ve done for DEEP DEUCE — and when they’re through, there’ll be about as many brown people left there as there are black people left in THEIR old neighborhood…”

    If you want to see a big city park that’s heavily used, check out Wiley Post Park on any given afternoon. Trouble is, as part of the vaunted “New Crosstown” mess, ODOT and BNSF quite deliberately rerouted mainline rail traffic to a longtime, low-speed, low-traffic-density design freight lead separating that park from its key neighborhood, Capitol Hill — replacing the elegant Union Station underpasses and their twin protected pedestrian walkways with not-even-any SIDEWALKS across the limited-sight-distance grade crossings of the Packing Town Lead. These are crossings that are heavily used – daily – by families going to and from work and to the park. Not even any SIDEWALKS across the tracks.

    As to the “quoted budget,” for the refurbished original Crosstown – it came from ODOT Bridge Division, an element of the agency rarely heard from during the big snow job — in favor of motormouths like the great Gary Ridley, a former asphalt lobbyist who wouldn’t qualify to teach a freshman-level college class in anything (no college degree in ANYTHING). His “qualification?” Glad to put up a fog of cold, deliberate lies in the faces of the taxpayers on behalf of the greedy, better-to-rule-in-hell-than-serve-in-heaven interests he benefits. When I questioned him about his evasions of the questions and challenges piled up at his door by the knowledgeable citizen activists who opposed the needless destruction of Union Station’s rail facility(and who, in June, 2008, defeated the whole business before the federal Surface Transportation Board), he answered thus – “Well, Tom, there WAS a time when we didn’t even have to ASK you what you thought…”

    The request for confirming comment from the remaining Crosstown expert in Bridge Division after the retirement of the longtime bridge chief was this: “Please don’t ask me to comment; You know that anything he told you is absolutely reliable — but please don’t ask me to comment further. You have no idea how much pressure we’re under in Bridge Division to help sell this new highway project.”

    The truth – as it might have been told by experienced, conscientious ODOT experts – was quite clearly restrained by threats well understood by public employees closer to retirement than initial employment.

    One of the chief, overriding goals of “the new Crosstown” was the make darn certain the taxpayers would never benefit from the gift of their great-grandparents’ generation known as OKC Union Station. Even the State Historic Preservation Officer fell over for the destruction of the business-end of the facility — as he had apparently been promised “a big new history museum” in return for his acquiescence. Among the elements destroyed and completely eliminated from future reconstruction prospects was a direct rail line from downtown to Will Rogers World Airport.

    Meanwhile – while 14-year Fifth District Congressman Ernest J. Istook was funding this destruction in OKC, here’s what he was funding for his religious brethren in Utah (see link below) – home of Tinker competitor HILL AFB, now the ONLY USAF Air Logistics Center in the nation with oil-crisis-proof-workforce-mobility in the form of 60 daily, fast commuter trains linked to the Ogden and Salt Lake / Provo population centers:


    Joe R.

    I doubt it has anything to do with the shortened work week. If you only have a need for, say, 1 million man-hours of labor per week what difference does it make if you have 25,000 people working 40 hours or 50,000 people working 20 hours? Either way the work which needs to be done is getting done. At least in the latter scenario twice as many people have some source of income.

    France’s problems largely stem from laws which make layoffs difficult. Perhaps with shortened work weeks there will be enough work to go around. You won’t need to layoff people, nor would you be keeping people on the payroll doing nothing.

    Incidentally, there’s nothing sacrosanct or wonderful about a 5 day, 40 hour work week. Frankly, I feel people would be better off on many levels working about half that many hours, and only working two or three days instead of five. There’s a point past which productivity starts to decline. Those extra hours Americans spend at work don’t result in more productivity. They just result in burnout. After about 35 hours per week productivity starts to decline:

    I could also argue that typically in most workplaces, even those with 35 hour work weeks, at least 10 hours a week is relatively unproductive (i.e. checking personal emails, meetings, spending time chatting with coworkers). In essence then you could probably make do with 20 to 25 hour work weeks with no loss of productivity.


    Joe R.

    There’s absolutely no need for 12 mph speed limits, or really any speed limits beyond those dictated by road geometry, weather conditions, or mechanical limitations, with driverless cars. You could happily, safely have driverless cars going 60 mph at times on urban streets with no safety issues. You can have them go 100 to 125 mph nearly all the time on limited access highways. The reason we have speed limits is due to human reaction times, as well as limits on human ability to detect other vehicles. Consider with driverless cars, the vehicles not only drive themselves, but can perhaps use other means besides visual to detect other vehicles. In short, they can “see” cyclists or pedestrians long before a human driver would, and then automatically adjust their speed to pass in a safe manner. When there are no cyclists or pedestrians, the vehicle could go a lot faster.

    The big problem with your idea here, besides the fact that it’s largely unnecessary with driverless cars, is that it would slow everything down to 12 mph. 12 mph is ridiculously slow, even on a bike. 20 mph is about the lowest we should ever set speed limits on regular streets. 20 mph is a good compromise of reasonable travel speed and safety. It also happens to be about as fast as most people will be going on a bike. With some mix of human and driverless cars you could have the driverless cars calm traffic. Once all cars were driverless, the need for an explicit numerical speed limit vanishes as the cars would automatically slow or stop as needed when encountering vulnerable users. The need for traffic controls would vanish as well. When the vehicles detect a pedestrian or cyclist approaching on a cross street, they slow or stop as needed to give that person safe passage. The cyclist or pedestrian can just remain in motion at whatever speed they want.



    Some people pour to live in them, but the costs to build and maintain the infrastructure fall on other people. With tax values only assessed the next year after new places are built, who paid for the new roads, widening existing roads, new signal lights, intersection repair, the sewer system, power lines…. it certainly isn’t the residents of the neighborhood when it was built.
    Suburbs wouldn’t do so well if the price of gasoline wasn’t pushed so low by us gov’t. Imagine $8 gallon gasoline–that “drive until you qualify” bit doesn’t look so nice anymore.



    Ah, these wacky millennials that grew up on Sex in the City and Friends. How fun. Most of them probably will move out once the kids arrive.



    So what makes a psuedo colonial-ish manufactured shopping center set amongst acres of parkingr a better place. I dont rank it any better than a field. If thats what people want hey, give it to them. But there is a certain social conceit playing out in this narrative that this is a better place or that is an unworthy place based upon definitions defined by few. Yes this was meant to be satire. But its humorless satire based upon an objective view that there is little to be had in a suburban field and said field is not a place. At least not a place said author deams would be worthy of being called a place defined in her lexicon.



    Read what he wrote. He wrote ‘being used’. It’s no longer used.



    That first graph would be a lot better if both sides started at the same height, instead of the right one starting taller for no apparent reason.


    Ronnie Beitler

    You mention the kids playing in the fountain. That’s precisely why this shopping center that takes urban design cues is a place. More specifically third places. Locations where people gather, socialize.



    So you are complaining about a project that made a neighborhood more attractive because it removed a barrier that kept it cheap (since it was nested between the old highway and the rail tracks)?

    Your quoted budget involve also the re-do of many interchanges in OKC, converting them to stacks, adding buffer lanes on the approach, with the goal of giving the city a better highway network.



    Yeah, yeah. More ODOT mythology.

    The old expressway could have been upgraded and modernized for indefinite use for less than $50 million. The problem was – that was too cheap, letting the good ‘ol taxpayers off just a little too easy. It would also have provided no cover for the strongarm theft of two or three neighborhoods comprised mostly of homes and businesses of the working class or poor coveted for a big new playground by the party set, nor would it have provided the long-sought the chamber’s car salesmen and highway lobby cadre their long-sought dream of obliterating the fabulous Union Station yard and its marvelous rail connections, a virtually ready-made transit network. So, instead, they ginned up this allegedly “$236 million” monstrosity which, if ever actually fully completed as promised, will likely have cost something in excess of $1.5 billion.

    I’ll remind you that this comically disastrous miscalculation came from the minds of the ODOT bunch and their puppeteers, now busy stuffing their own pockets at the expense of future generations. They’ve already amassed a state “unfunded highway maintenance deficit” well in excess of $100 billion, which they’re courageously shuffling under various voodoo rugs to be confronted at some future date (after those who made the mess are retired or dead) by Oklahomans not now here to defend themselves.

    As they say at my old alma mater, “Boomer Sooner!”



    That’s also why France is on the brink of financial collapse.



    Isn’t everything that isn’t a road a “place”? This whole place making thingy just leaves me scratching my head. There’s lots of places I want to go, but you may not want to go to. Same there may be places you want to go, that I don’t care to go.

    Some places none of us can go, because it’s private property. Maybe if we are lucky we can see over the fence.

    Some places are open to the public, like shopping centers, museums and parks.

    Place making is made with either private investment, donations of funds or taxpayers dollars.

    To say that every office building is a “place” however does not necessarily mean anything to me except I can look at it. If I don’t have business at the building, chances are the front desk security isn’t going to let me beyond the lobby. So a fallow field is a place in the same respect as an office building. I can see it, but I can necessarily violate private property rules and trespass.

    So you show a picture of possibly a not to interesting place to take an engagement picture. Pfffft. There’s a million interesting places. I just thought it was a photo of people who were so thoroughly in love with each other that they really didn’t care where their photo is taken or without too much of a bright imagination. But I will say the wedding photo with the lady in the background in the swim suit in a public fountain certainly adds distinction.

    When someone feels there isn’t enough places for people, I wonder what in the world are you talking about.



    There would be a benefit to driverless cars if they could be programmed to observe the speed limit. There would have to be some sort of GIS telling the car what the speed limit is on each street it drives on.

    Then we could lower speed limits drastically. For example, we could lower the speed limit to 12 mph on bicycle priority streets, so bicycles can really share the road with cars rather than being forced to keep to the right.

    Today, most drivers exceed the speed limit. No one would obey a 12 mph limit, so it is illegal to set the limit so low in most states.

    If there were a significant number of driverless cars that obeyed the speed limit, then the cars with drivers would also obey the speed limit, at least on roads with just one traffic lane in each direction where they can’t pass. The driverless cars would act as traffic calming devices that prevent other cars from going faster than the speed limit.



    “Everyone?” This is either pure delusion or another attempt at satire. It’s fair to criticize urbanists who sometimes seem to ignore the realities that make some people prefer the suburbs to big cities or wide open spaces. Unfortunately, you’re doing the exact same thing–assuming that where YOU want to live is where “EVERYONE” (your word) wants to live.



    Yes, everyone is dying to move to the suburbs. It’s like it’s 1951 again!


    Ralph Horque

    I am not one of the “pourers” who wants to live in the burbs. In this town, the burbs are way overpriced.


    JoMama Iguana

    Oh man, THAT’s funny stuff! I kinda want to mug those two myself. And I don’t think their cute Bandana Dog would stop me.


    Matt Sommer



    JoMama Iguana

    (damn you, autocorrect. hipper-than-THOU.)



    It’s funny there’s such bigotry for the suburbs, yet everyone pours in to live there. A new construction site in the city that hasn’t filled in yet, or a just-designed park, or a forest after a lightning-strike fire would be just as unappealing. Why do a story that people seek out attractive backdrops for their pictures? It’s self-evident.


    JoMama Iguana

    Yup, hipper-than-though until they start procreating and realize a near-urban ex-urb with (*gasp*) yards, relative safety, and better schools might not suck all that much after all. Oh, and somewhat less pretentious neighbors are ok, too.


    Ronnie Beitler

    Nope. I used the wedding notion before when advocating for building better places. Link below is to photos I took of a couple in a suburban shopping center. It’s not about URBAN vs. SUBURBAN. Or seeking “hipster” grafitti pictures. .

    It’s about placemaking. You CAN build more attractive suburban places. You can build human oriented scale. You can foster walkabillity. You can make places vibrant.




    Talk to people who lived through the Great Revolution of the 1920s, and they’ll tell you Mao was a huge improvement on the Dowager Empress Cixi

    Huh? Why would they make a comparison between Cixi and Mao? There were at least three heads of state between Cixi and Mao. Cixi died in 1908, and her adopted son was the last emperor of China, and then after that, Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek.

    Mao deposed Chiang Kai Shek, not Emperess Cixi.



    PS: Asbestos use ended many years ago.

    So did lead paint, but it’s still present in older housing units. That’s why you brought up lead and why Kevin brought up asbestos.



    Interesting LA Times article. Perhaps they could use some additional information. They could read Peter Norton’s book “Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City”. Who was it that started the war on people walking and biking? (Car companies and automobile organizations?). While they are at it maybe they can read Todd Litman’s work about sustainable transportation and TDM. Complete streets work better for all modes of transportation.



    The old highway was congested, needed increased capacity and that couldn’t be provided at the current site, realisticially. They rebuilt it southwards, opening space that was once used by the old I-40.



    Yes, I-40 was relocated south on what appears as a thick yellow line on the map above. Relocation was completed in 2012.


    AAA is crap

    That’s the price for a typical new sedan, not what people pay. Also,

    1) You buy a new car every five years.
    2) Even though you know you will sell the car, you buy the extended warranty.
    3) You accept the dealer’s trade-in price (which is very low generally).
    4) Even though you know you are going to sell it to the dealer for no money, you go ahead and put on a new set of tires right before doing so.
    5) You buy insurance with really low deductibles.
    6) Because on average you have a 2.5 year old car, your annual car tax and your insurance are very high (in most states, the taxes are based on the value of the car).
    7) And you finance the car @ non-deductible 6% interest. It should be noted that most car loans are 3-5 years. So if you kept a car after it was paid off… this cost would go away.


    Joe R.

    Yes, exactly. I honestly think starting families fell out as the most desired life path even back when I was young in the early 1980s. A lot of people I graduated with didn’t get married until their late 30s. Some had children, some didn’t. Some, like me, never married or had children.

    Living with a bunch of friends in a big apartment or house actually could be a decent lifetime arrangement if you all get along. As you said, even if one or more of the couples have kids, why not just add the kid to the mix? Really, this living arrangement is analogous to small groups of people living in a village-an arrangement which was worked well for millenia. For social and other reasons, humans should be in groups. Living alone breeds mental issues and depression.


    Kevin Love

    Huh? Every member of the House of Commons was democratically elected. The problem addressed by the Reform Act was that the Industrial Revolution caused population movements that resulted in electoral ridings being of unequal population. Sometimes the imbalances were quite extreme, such as in the exploding populations of new industrial cities like Manchester.

    But even in the most grossly under-represented new industrial cities the people still got to vote for members of parliament, unlike Washington, DC today.

    Women in the UK were granted the vote in 1918 and in the USA in 1920. And, of course, the Jim Crow laws preventing black people from voting were only overthrown with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    As a practical matter, people like Thomas Jefferson derived not only wealth but sexual gratification from the institution of slavery. A powerful motive to stand up for US independence to thwart the abolitionist movement in parliament.


    Joe R.

    “Relatively unskilled” doesn’t mean “unskilled”. I’ll grant that some types of customer service require skilled professionals. I’ve worked with such people representing electronic parts suppliers, for example. My point is the bean counters attempted (with laughably bad results) to turn a job requiring at least a modicum of cultural literacy/social skills into an unskilled job which is done with a “cheat sheet”. I’ve known some people in my field (electrical engineering) who had legendary failures when they tried to outsource something more skilled like engineering.

    You’ve probably already seen these, but they’re worth watching again:


    Joe R.

    Speed seems to be an evil around Streetsblog in general but that ignores the fact the goods and services cost less if they can be delivered in less time. It also ignores the fact that time is worth something to nearly everyone, so time saved traveling translates into real money.

    Somehow we’ve managed grade separation for cars without the extremes you mention. Note that I said “major roads”, not everywhere. In practice this might mean a 1 mile square grid of viaducts in major urban areas. In NYC that would be perhaps 750 miles of viaducts at most. You can drastically reduce that number by leveraging existing grade separated infrastructure and taking advantage of places where you can run at grade level without intersecting cross streets (i.e. along parks railways, cemetaries, bodies of water). Major roads tend to be places where drivers want to go fast enough that shared space won’t work. They also tend to be places with lots of traffic signals. Traffic signals and stop signs don’t work for bikes. I’ll grant your point that separation does indeed make stopping and queuing a lot more complex but my point is bikes are not cars. There’s a very limited number of times any cyclist can physically start and stop. We’ve allowed bikes on roads since the 1920s with the stipulation they obey the same set of rules as motor traffic. This worked fine back when car speeds were relatively slow, and traffic lights or stop signs were seldom used. Now thanks to community boards and legislators advocating traffic lights or stop signs as “traffic calming devices”, instead of their intended use, legal use of streets by cyclists often requires more stopping than is comfortable, or even possible. The resulting slow average speeds tend to reduce the utility of biking over what it could be. For example, on some streets in NYC you’re lucky to average 6 mph on a bike. Repeatedly stopping and encountering other typical urban obstacles makes cycling more stressful. The more stressful, slow, or energy intensive you make cycling, the fewer people will use it for transportation.

    Being that you’re someone who likes to bike much faster than the Streetsblog “8 mph on a heavy upright bike” I would think you might appreciate my reasoning.



    Laziness and ignorance are very expensive, always have been. But that doesn’t make car ownership for those who are neither expensive. Same goes for a home or condo.

    Anyways… OBD2 requires a scanner. They are cheap now. Cheaper than the ‘engine analyzer’ needed for older cars going back to the beginning of time cost back in the day. These devices (engine analyzers) measure RPM, dwell, volts, amps, etc. F or the really cheap autoparts stores will pull the codes for you for free. When a code isn’t thrown it’s just like old times.

    Modern cars are in many ways easier to work on because the codes give clues. Various makes do different things with regards to documentation, but for Ford the basic OBD2 logic behind each code is published for free on the motorcraft web site. Now with some good software and a laptop all the computer stuff really helps for figuring out more complex stuff. Modern cars are quite amenable to DIY. They’re just different.

    Teenagers and college age kids don’t have any problem flashing their cars with new ‘tunes’. Although the way they whine when they break their cars and rightfully it isn’t covered under warranty is annoying. Spoiled brats who don’t deserve cars made this century let alone new enough to be under warranty if they are going to act like that, but I digress. The fact is they can and do dive deeply into the cars’ computer controls.

    People have the perception they can’t do it, so they can’t. The reality is today’s cars are just different, not impossible, and really easier.



    One way to claim extra space on roads, more so out west, would be to reduce lane widths from 12 feet to 10 feet in towns and cities.


    Cold Shoaler

    outsourcing customer service to a foreign country isn’t a failure because it’s “unskilled”; it’s a failure because it requires cultural literacy and a lot of other social skils that don’t easily flow over a 2000 mile phone line. The customer service people I work with are highly skilled and amazing professionals. It’s insulting to write that they are “unskilled”.



    Oh so now it’s about speed! I thought speed was evil here. Bicycles still need to stop at intersections with separation as it is currently practiced (lanes). Stopping and queuing at intersections is made more complex with separation for bicycles. What do you think a place lime Mumbai would look like with extensive and complex lane arrangements with all the associated stopping and queuing?

    Grade separation for bicycles will either darken streets or require a lot more land area going to roads. The infrastructure costs would require cutting off the wall street just to maintain let alone build. To build you might need to cut out the military and social security too.



    1 & 2 sound like a damn good start.

    3 is not enforced by government, it is threatened by government (as I described in a previous reply)

    You’re using money? Who’s money? Oh the money the government took by threat. How are you achieving your utopia? Through government and having it punish people who don’t go along.



    Government does no such thing. Under the present system none of us really own land. Stop paying the property taxes, the rent, and see who really owns it. Furthermore since the New London decision, any crony who wants our land can just have government take it for them. The government you count on is the same one that has broken just about every if not every treaty it entered into with Native Americans. Some of which were as I understand it, societies not ruled over by a state.

    Democracy… what a silly notion. Rule by mob. This isn’t a democracy. You might have noticed the government routinely ignores the majority. We live under rule by winner of popularity contests that are beholden to certain unmentionable interests.



    I’m here so you can resort to name calling and display the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of your views.



    Congress routinely sells off rights to mine public lands for pennies on the dollar. I’m talking what was a really good deal in the 19th century in numerical dollars is what they pay today. That’s your government. Also government has been regulating the small farmer out of business. They’ve been creating regulations which only the industrial and giant agra-businesses can deal with. But that’s as old as the 1970s, “Get big or get out”. Various food co-ops, organic farmers, raw milk dairies, etc and so forth have been getting raided more and more in the last few years. You might want to pay closer attention to what your government is doing.



    People who owned south Michigan ave mansions were not employees at the stock yards. Anyways, the problem isn’t your universal villain, the automobile. But the first automobile race in the USA in the 19th century did have south Michigan ave as part of the course.



    I own four cars. The oldest one I’ve had for 20 years, the second oldest for 18. I do know what it costs. Unlike you who has to rely on external sources to tell him how much. It’s 10 grand a year for people who buy $40,000 cars every 3 years or live in a $4000/yr mandatory insurance hell like say Boston. But for everyone else, no. But what’s behind the expense? Government. Your tool to deliberately make it cost more.

    If you’re so concerned about poisoning, why don’t you go after pharmaceutical industry? The medical cartel? The industrialized food complex? There are far far higher, by like a factor of a hundred or more there than your made up numbers about cars. Go after a real problem instead of one you imagine based on a view of the world frozen decades ago. You sound like the unemployment office people that still think people have to pound the pavement looking for a job like it was 1937.



    Yes there are always bullies. You give them badges and guns and authority to get away with everything including murder. The authority cult is such a funny thing. You think bullies can protect you from bullies.


    Streetsblog Network

    That’s the one they removed.


    Kevin Love

    You are just so adorable! Now you know more about car ownership costs than AAA.

    Thank you for providing some amusement on a Sunday evening.

    After all, it is a grim world, with car drivers viciously poisoning and killing approximately 1,421 people in New York City every year. We need a little amusement sometimes before we go back to grim reality.



    Gas taxes and other auto fees in Chicago/Cook County make up a substantial part of the city’s and County’s operating budget. To make up the lost revenue property taxes would have to go higher.

    Go ahead and abandon freeways. But understand the cost of replacing the highways and trucking system with new rail will be very expensive. How much more rail will you need to replace the all the trucks on the road? Land acqisition in urban areas for handling depots and distribution centers. Where are these new lines going to be built, who’s property will be taken, and who will pay for all the new infrastructure? In the mean time, the expectation the surburbs will be abandoned as people pour back in the cities. Competition for land driving costs up for everyone, including property taxes. Well now that we don’t have autos, maybe all you folks living in single family homes have too much land with too little house. Next thing we will be told you have too much and it needs to be leveled to build multi family housing. My expectation that everybody is going to have to pay way more and expect to live with way less to get the state of the art train system you expect to have.



    Temporarily there may have been some beneft by Mao and Lenin. However, in the end they brought little to the benefit of vast change except to kill off the intellectual class. Both countries are still lack freedom today accepted by most western societies.