Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Great Paseo Brouhaha

I remember back in the early to mid 1990s when Marty was pushing through the Paseo "Freeway" to the westside. I was in middle school and so incredibly excited that our city would have another freeway. That nearly made us like a big city!

15 years later, that freeway has fed into the sprawl machine that has pushed most new growth to the northwest mesa and Rio Rancho. I say sprawl as though it were a vile word but I have to admit that I don't truly see it being the devil, per se. However, in this day and age, feeding this 20th century "solution" to growth and traffic management seems a bit naive.

The biggest cheerleader is wanna-be mayor Cadigan whose constituents, obviously, want to cross the river much quicker and dislike sitting in idling traffic. Who doesn't? Here lies my inner communist planner: these people made the decision to move to this area with limited routes into "the City" (that makes it sound cool when you say it like that), they should not be bailed out of their poor decision. Cadigan, being the enlightened individual that he wants to be, balks at the mayors attempts at investing in the stagnant downtown (see: arena, streetcar) because of budget constraints. Yet, he is aggressively pushing for a short term solution that puts us further in the hole, financially, than this "boondoggle" choo choo. I want to qualify my "short term solution" statement by forecasting an increasingly growing westside and increased commuter traffic into "the City." This growth will put us right back to our current situation but only on a larger scale. Therefore, this $250 million dollar solution is not, in fact, a solution, but a very expensive, parasitic, band aid.

When will people wake up to the world around them? Albuquerque is already tip-toeing the line of excessive bad air quality days. We're using far more water than we planned. And our educated youth are leaving in droves.

I was recently given a presentation by a Chinese planning firm that stated what everyone seems to acknowledge (even in rural, northwestern China!) - that educated young adults are swarming to cities that exhibit smart growth practices and provide rich, urban environments. These places, in turn, attract employers looking for such talent. How do our city leaders not recognize this?

Screw quality of life, we need more roads, says Michael Cadigan!

Sorry, I can't help it.


Michael said...

Wow. Just a fantastic post. Couldn't agree more. I feel like I was in almost the exact same place wishing for Paseo and now looking back in horror. Great write up.

Tim said...

Thanks Michael!

Ian said...

Hey Tim,

I'll be moving to Albuquerque this fall to start an urban planning masters at UNM (I see you're in the UW program). I've done a fair bit of research on ABQ (I currently live in the DC area, but have lived all over), but I'd like to chat with you sometime on your perspectives. I can tell you're probably going to return to the ABQ area someday to help make it a better place, so I'm sure we'll cross paths at any rate. My email is - let me know what's up in Seattle, and thanks for the website!


Ian said...

I said Tim, but is the author of urbanABQ John?? If so, sorry for the mistake.

ABQrising said...

I'm totally for overhauling the Paseo/25 interchange. And, as you're well aware, I'm also for multifaceted transportation system. In short. I want Caddy's concrete fly-overs and Marty's little engine. Where the magic money comes from -- who knows? (Psst...toll roads, toll roads, toll roads...)

Do it.

Sean said...

I grew up in ABQ and still visit several times each year. Several of my relatives moved to the Paradise Hills area back when there were maybe 20 houses in that part of town. We used to go shooting and dirtbiking where the Ventana Ranch and the new TVI (forgot what it's called now) was built. Anyway, for more years that I can remember I've been amazed that the I-25/Paseo intersection has remained in current extremely inefficient form. It's not even worth calling an interchange,because in an efficient interchange you don't have to sit through two red lights in any direction. Now with the explosive growth that the West Side and Rio rancho has seen, it's damn near unbelievable that this hasn't been addressed.

BTW, nice blog. This is my first comment, but I do visit often.