Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boss Godfrey: "I Don't Want Overhead Wires in My City"

A glimpse into Mayor Godfrey's apparent European streetcar junket epiphany

By Curmudgeon

The Salt Lake Tribune is running a story today about the recent trip UTA ran to Europe for several Utah mayors to learn about street car systems. Ogden's very own Mayor Godfrey appears in the story, with comments that should absolutely not be missed. For example [from the story]:

Bordeaux, France, demonstrated a new technology that uses a third rail that is electrified only as the car passes over it, eliminating the risk of pedestrian electrocutions. Other trains on the tour packed batteries, allowing cities to dispense with overhead wires in places, such as city-center plazas. Those technologies proved persuasive to Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey, who said he doesn't want overhead wires in his city.
The Mayor who pitched the city into some turmoil for several years, touting a gondola to run on wires suspended from stanchions all the way from downtown up to Harrison, then along Harrison to WSU, now announces he "doesn't want overhead wires in his city."

Parody is dead.


Tec Jonson said...

This is his way of sounding important as though he is making key decisions. We have overhead wires all over the city, why not on the single dedicated streetcar route. He has a way of injecting his twist into every issue as a stall tactic or just a way of putting his personal stamp on it. If he is so adamant about eliminating overhaead wires he can start with the mess UtahPower has knitted over my backyard. They have four homes strung from one pole and all of it suspended through my yard and fruit trees. They do not care to organize it. They do not even care to trim away the trees until they pose an imminent risk.

Just get us a streetcar system, Matt. Your legacy will do fine if you just give this one your all.

Southsider said...

Godfrey seems to tout all his ideas as the first, the only, the biggest ... Everybody is getting streetcars, but Matty will have the first/only/biggest one without wires. A gondola would really be "cool & sexy", but a wireless streetcar sure comes a close second!

What will it cost us said...

I would study Portland OR system, started with a grant and it took 11years to actually start service on an 8 mile downtown line. It now also serves the airport. These are the gaols listed which seem pretty sane to me. Great website BTW.

Link neighborhoods with a convenient and attractive transportation alternative.

Fit the scale and traffic patterns of existing neighborhoods.

Provide quality service to attract new transit ridership.

Reduce short inner-city auto trips, parking demand, traffic congestion and air pollution.

Encourage development of more housing & businesses in the Central City.

Tec Jonson said...

Near as I can tell, Savannah, Georgia has the first and only wireless streetcar. It runs on Bio Diesel from local restaurants. The line is only a mile long and has 0% gradient. This kind of vehicle could serve a downtown circulator as there is also no gradient. I doubt the ability of this highly experimental and limited technology to make the hillclimb from downtown to WSU. Leadership will be evident from the urgency he applies to this badly needed project and not from the personal green-washing twist he applies to it.

Tec Jonson said...

Some interesting reading on this subject and another relatively unknown African-American inventor.

Granville T. Woods

Curmudgeon said...


Agree this is an opportunity for the Mayor to lead and so put his stamp on a project with high potential for long-term benefit in a variety of ways to the city. Not sure what you mean by "personal green-washing twist" though.

Tec Jonson said...

To green-wash is to jump on the green everything band wagon. His desire to have no overhead wires or to use hybrid tech is an attempt at green washing for environmental brownie points. Green-washing is rampant nowadays. Notice "green" carryall shopping bags. What a crock. Reusing a shabby bag of anykind is far greener than buying a bag with a "greenie" logo on it. The more times you reuse it the greener it becomes. Unless you are picking up dog poo. :0

Tec Jonson said...

Some more interesting reading. San Diego North County Sprinter uses "wireless" diesel trains but there is some detailed analysis of it's application.

San Diego Sprinter

Curmudgeon said...


Ah, ok. But I don't think hybrid technologies for trolleys etc. necessarily constitutes green-washing as you define it. Hybrid technologies can provide substantive benefits, and are not necessarily merely feel good options. Nor, for example, would I count trying to limit the number of overhead wires in a city as "green-washing." One of the real advantages [for me] of living in Ogden... one of the reasons we moved here... is the mountain views available from damn near anyplace. I was watching the sun light up the upper reaches of Ben Lomond early this morning as I waited for my bus on Harrison. Spectacular. It would have been less so watching it through a tangle of overhead wires. So as I said I'm not sure a preference for avoiding more overhead lines constitutes "green-washing" as you define it. Wireless urban tech brings with it, for me, substantive and not at all inconsequential benefits. If Hizzonah gets behind a trolley option that will work for Ogden that includes wireless technology, I'm all for it.

We can both recognize "green-washing" excesses, but it similarly makes little sense to dismiss substantive green-options as "green-washing" which, I suspect, you are doing a bit of above.

Ruth said...

insincere and deceitful.

example: Matthew Godfrey

ps - nice site, thanks.

Bill C. said...

Lying little matty's take on wires may have more to do with his prefered routing than vision, no pun.

Dr. OPPOSITE said...

Those technologies proved persuasive to Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey..."

Nothing proves persuasive about the LITLLE SHIT Except the ideas which eminate by radio/psychic waves into HIS GIANT FOREHEAD.

Like it or not the little shit is "gifted!"

OgdenLover said...

While I love the idea of a wireless streetcar, I have yet to see any data showing that it will work in our climate. Bordeaux doesn't get much rain and gets NO snow and ice.

Tec Jonson said...


If Harrison Blvd. represented the ultimate point of view in Ogden then I'd be concerned about "a tangle of overhead wires". It is however, one of our dedicated thoroughfares, a part of our beautiful earth sacrificed for the smooth movement of traffic. I do not think the mountain view from Harrison Blvd. should matter as we contemplate the particular streetcar technology. Granted the view can be stunning but it can be sacrificed as the thoroughfare needs trump the aesthetic. The view will remain fine from points clear of the transit cabling. If indeed a trolley-free(the proper terminology as a trolley/trawler is in fact the little idler that rides the power lines) technology can be deployed I am all for it. The vast majority of the latest streetcar deployments are trolleys. I think we should follow the lead of whatever can get us the best system with the most federal money behind it.

Curmudgeon said...


None of what you posted counters what I was arguing: if the mayor identifies a trolley option that includes wireless technology for Ogden that will work well here, there would be no reason not to support it. That statement still stands. There is no reason to make any street in Ogden more wire-cluttered than necessary.

disgusted said...

there are two very good reasons - cost & affordability.

Curmudgeon said...


Those two reasons seem, really, to be one. And at this point, we have precisely no reliable cost estimates for competing systems for Ogden, since we are some years yet from the point of buying a technology. All I suggested, and still suggest, is that if a cable-less trolley technology is there that works well for Ogden, it'd be a mistake, I think, not to go with it. Cost would of course be one factor in determining if it worked well for Ogden. By the time Ogden is ready to select a system to build, the cost structures may have changed significantly, as often happens with relatively new technologies. We'll have to see.

But I've seen a very good example of seeming cost effectiveness turning out in the long run to have been just the opposite. In Baton Rouge, LA., the power company opted to install its urban power lines above ground rather than below ground. Said it would cost too much to put new lines in underground. Three hurricanes later, especially following the one last year, it turned out the power company spent far more rebuilding substantial portions of the system three times [and nearly the entire urban system last time] than it would earlier. So decisions about the "cost" of a particular technology can often involve considerations that are more important than the initial sticker price.

Which is why, at this point, I wouldn't dismiss any technology out of hand simply because of its current sticker price. We'll have to look, when the time comes, and see, and evaluate, and consider not only up front costs but maintenance costs over time, and then decide. Too early to do that now.

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