Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Civic Pride

Once again I'm taking this opportunity to compare my new city to my home. For years now I have heard nothing but the negatives about the city of Dallas, from its horrible traffic and conservative attitude to its general lack of physical appeal. After a month of exploration, I can attest to the horrible traffic but the other two are yet to reveal themselves. Now, granted, my viewport has not yet reached across the metroplex into the Fort Worth side but the sheer enormity of this city isn't conducive to simple exploration in limited time.

I'll begin with the infrastructure. There is an obvious lag in infrastructure just as you can see in every major city across the country. Most major freeways and interchanges within the city are crumbling and are no where near meeting the demands of a daily rush hour. However, there is an obvious effort to not only catch up, but rebuild aesthetically pleasing projects to meet demand for decades to come. I'm not a fan of the lone star that's plastered on everything but it is a symbol of pride and is rarely mistaken for anything other than that.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is also working hard to change the minds of onlookers with it's impressive bus schedules and it's light rail and commuter rail lines. According to the downtown business alliance, over 33% of the 110,000 downtown employees ride the train to work daily. Simply impressive. Equally impressive is the transit oriented development around several of the stations, particularly Mockingbird Station. This project is hardly inconspicuous driving down 75. From the train, the footprint of the next phase of the project is nearly mind blowing.

I bring all this up only to bring light to what I see as a shortfall in too many projects that pass through the planning department in ABQ. The ATC, ABQ Uptown, the Big I. Granted, each project was nice, but just that, nice. Our very own union station resembles a small city bus station from 1900 instead of a 21st century multimodel facility. ABQ Uptown looks no better than a shopping center in a midwestern suburb. And now the city and state are paying to beautify our interchange at a price that would be a decent start to a new interchange over on Paseo Del Norte.We talk about light-rail. We talk about transit oriented development. We talk about large civic projects left and right but yet we don't feel that we deserve anything more than a landscaped median.

I think it's about time we dressed this city up and deck her out for the big ball. We must hold planners and developers accountable for our built environment. Yes, those Sandia Mountains sure do give us something beautiful to gaze upon, but having to peer beyond uninspired, generic architecture, smog and weeds sure does put a damper on things.

Furthermore, I had the opportunity to attend the Texas State Fair. After also having seen the Iowa State Fair I now fully believe it is time to let go of our fairgrounds in its current location. Main St, Tingley and the Downs are mere shanti homes compared to their peers.

1 comment:

Raine K said...

I lived in Dallas from 2000-2002 and really hated it for too many reasons to go into here. But I did love their train and bus system. I lived downtown and worked near the airport and had a very easy commute. And I could get around to most places fairly easily without a car.