Monday, August 16, 2010

Important Council Work Session Set For Tuesday Night -UPDATED

The Ogden Transit Alternatives Analysis is on the agenda
Added Bonus: Read Dan S.'s live blogged remarks in the comments section below

For those readers closely following the Ogden Streetcar planning situation, we'd like to provide notice of tomorrow evening's council work session. Here's the full notice, straight from the Ogden City website:

Notice is hereby given that the Ogden City Council will meet for a Work Session on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 5:30 p.m., in the Council Work Room, located on the third floor of the Municipal Building in Ogden City, Weber County, Utah. The purpose of the work session is to discuss the Transit Alternatives Analysis, the property donation to St. Anne’s Center, Inc. and Council business.
Here's the link to the council packet:
08/17 City Council Work Session Packet
Within this lengthy lengthy (11.95 MB pdf) packet you'll find, among other things, two documents labeled "Ogden-WSU Transit Corridor AA-EIS Presentation" and "Economic Development Opportunities Analysis Presentation." In this connection we recommend that all WCF readers who are interested in this project carefully review these documents, as we have the uneasy feeling that these appear to be the sole working UTA documents upon which all interested parties will be forced to rely as the Streetcar Project moves forward.

Our initial impression upon first glance at these documents? Just as we've long suspected, the whole process has been carefully rigged to generate a finding that the 36th street east-west corridor is the "preferred alignment." Many of the so called assumptions and conclusions within these documents appear to be unsupported by reliable evidence.

Get out your magnifying glasses and green eye shades folks. Among other things revealed in the packet... A public hearing on this matter has been set at Union Station for September 28, 2010. Between now and then we'll urge all 25th Street cross-town corridor advocates to familiarize yourselves with these documents and carefully note the defects in the existing analysis, lest this project be shoved down the lumpencitizens' throats through flawed analysis.

And in the meantime we'll encourage all readers to chime in with your comments. And of course on Tuesday night we'll leave this thread open for anyone who plans to attend Tuesday's work session to provide your observations and post-meeting reports.

And in closing, we'll provide this helpful graphic, gleaned from the "Ogden-WSU Transit Corridor AA-EIS Presentation" document, just to allow our readers to see how far along we are in the Transit Corridor Alignment selection process:

(Click Image to Enlarge)

Scary ainnit?

And yes... we do confess... we photoshopped it just a little bit... just to clarify where we really are within this obviously rigged process.

Update 8/17/10 2:52 p.m.: Here's another reminder of tonight's Transit Analysis council work session, per Brandon Chase Bell, via Facebook:
UTA/Ogden City Council Meeting Tonight 8/17 5:30 p.m.
We're glad to see the word is getting out; and once again we encourage all meeting attendees to get back to WCF, to post your post-meeting comments.

Update 8/17/10 5:46 p.m.: Surprise of surprises, Dan S. is now live blogging from the City Council Chamber! Open the below comments section and refresh your browsers to read Dan's continuing real-time remarks.

Update 8/18/10 7:15 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner's Roy Burton throws in his own 2¢ this morning with his brief post-meeting writeup below:
Ogden streetcar far from happening
Special thanks to Dan S. for last evening's excellent real-time play-by-play reporting.


Kent S. said...

Bottom line, Rudi. The Ogden City Council holds all the cards on this. Unless the Council votes to approve an alignment other than 25th/26th, the project is a complete non-starter, it seems to me.

what will it cost us said...

Call the City Council especially those aligned with the mayor and the Chair to stop this waste of funds.
If the Mayor has already bought the trollys or entered into an agreement he needs to cough up the funds from his slush fund he uses without City Council approval. He needs to understand the taxpayer money well has finally run dry.

Anonymous said...

Public transportation is, simply put, the future. Personal vehicles will be used primarily for recreation within 20 years. All new road construction, bus lines, and rail projects requiring public expenditure should be built around this fact.

Cars are for leisurely Sunday drives. Americans really need to grow up, and quit acting like a mob of spoiled 10 year old children demanding more free candy.

And yes, this means you.

Dan S. said...

I'm now at the council work session, ready to report on any fireworks. Not sure there'll be much to say, though, beyond what's already in the council packet that Rudi has linked.

Dan S. said...

The room is pretty much packed. G.J. LaBonty of UTA is presenting. So far it's just background that many of us have heard over and over again.

Dan S. said...

He keeps using the word "rigorous" to describe the analysis they've done.

Dan S. said...

LaBonty is having trouble with some of the basic facts and terminology. Either he's nervous, or he's too inexperienced to keep all the facts in his head.

Dan S. said...

Stephenson: How would it fit on 36th Street, which is quite narrow? LaBonty: Because the vehicle would share the road with automobiles. This is possible because it's not a state road, whereas 30th Street is. [In other words, UDOT is unofficially calling the shots here.]

Dan S. said...

UTA is playing games with the term "fixed guideway", claiming that a certain percentage has to be in an exclusive right-of-way. In fact, any streetcar is, by definition, "fixed guideway", so as long as it's a streetcar, this is a non-issue. Just one example of how they're trying to bamboozle the city council.

Dan S. said...

UTA: "UDOT has specific capacity requirements". [My question: Why won't UDOT put its requirements in writing so we can all see them?]

Dan S. said...

Garner: 25th Street is significantly wider than 36th.

Stephens: What about taking 25th to Monroe? LaBonty: That alignment was screened out, but can't remember exactly why.

Dan S. said...

UTA is raising the specter of historic preservation and federal requirements. Basically, the claim is that they can't impact properties older than 50 years. In other words, they have to put the streetcar through new neighborhoods, not old ones. This despite the fact that it's the older neighborhoods that are designed in a pedestrian-friendly and transit-friendly way. However, they admit that this conclusion is only speculative because they haven't done the rigorous analysis.

Dan S. said...

As usual, UTA is speaking on behalf of UDOT, and UDOT isn't here to say whether their position is being represented accurately. But the claim is more or less that UDOT won't allow a streetcar to operate in a traffic lane on any of Harrison. How absolute this is, especially for the northern part of Harrison, isn't clear. We'd have to ask UDOT.

Dan S. said...

Ridership estimates are essentially the same for all the cross-town alignments, but the analysis that went into these was minimal.

Dan S. said...

Now turning presentation over to Karen Wikstrom, consultant, regarding the economic development analysis.

Dan S. said...

Wikstrom: Used metrics based on publicly available information. But they did sit down with Ogden City staff regarding "redevelopment potential". [So which is it? Publicly available information or not?]

So they looked at these things: Vacant land (in pieces of 25,000 square feet or more); and ratio of land value to total value (with buildings).

"Estimated investment" is the amount that it would take to bring the land/total value ratio to the city's average.

Also looked at current zoning and existing plans. But La Bonty implies that plans for zoning changes were not necessarily considered. Several council members are pressing them on this, and it's not clear what exactly what considered and what wasn't.

Dan S. said...

Wikstrom: Development potential numbers are conservative.

Bottom line [if we can believe it] is that the "estimated investment" is only $1.5 million for the 25th Street alignment but $8.5 million for 36th Street. [There's no map of where this investment would presumably occur.]

Dan S. said...

LaBonty: There are some people at the county level who are still favoring a bus-rapid-transit system instead of streetcar. This would be considerably less expensive.

Dan S. said...

LaBonty: "Other than owning and operating this thing, we don't have a dog in this fight." [This is surprisingly candid: UTA honestly doesn't care where it goes, as long as they get to expand their empire.]

Dan S. said...

Mick Crandall of UTA (higher up than LaBonty): Widening Harrison between 25th and 30th just doesn't seem possible and would generate great public outcry.

Dan S. said...

Wicks: But UDOT wants to widen Harrison anyway.

Crandall: If the city doesn't support that, it may be removed from the long-range plan.

Patterson: City is trying to get that removed from the plan.

Van Hooser: It was still in the version that we saw last week.

Dan S. said...

Crandall explains the funding situation. It's not easy. Even with a 60% federal match, at current cost estimates, this project would use up nearly all of the available funding from the 1/4 cent sales tax passed in 2007 (after deducting the 25% of it that must be spent on highway rights of way).

Dan S. said...

Public meeting has been moved to September 30th (not the 28th), at Union Station.

Dan S. said...

Presentation is over; time for questions.

Van Hooser: Is all this information available to the public? La Bonty: We'll post everything in your packet. If there's anyone who wants the raw data, we'll be more than happy to provide that.

RudiZink said...

"If there's anyone who wants the raw data, we'll be more than happy to provide that."

Great! Looks like its time for somebody to submit a detailed GRAMA request.

It would no doubt be quite enlightening to view all the cross communication that's occurred while these bureaucrats have been operating in secret.

(Please excuse the interruption, Dan.)

RockStar75 said...

New to all of this but felt it necessary to attend tonights meeting so that I could have an educated opinion. After leaving I feel compelled to chime in.

I left that meeting feeling as though men in fancy suits were trying to bamboozle my mind with bullshit. They were chasing their tail with inaccurate information and expecting this local girl to join... No thanks!!

This was my first Council meeting ever and it has inspired me to become more involved. If this is the misinformation most of you have been dealing with all I have to say to all of you is KUDOS!!! I will join you in frustration to help deliver truth!

Dan S. said...

Sorry I forgot to post a final comment before I left the meeting.

There were several more questions from the council but I was too busy listening to type them up. No real surprises, and the discussion didn't last especially long.

Then there was a break before the next agenda item, and I left--but not before securing promises from UTA that it would indeed provide all the raw data that went into its analysis.

Curmudgeon said...

Thanks, Dan.

I get the impression that the ridership estimates are largely "who the hell knows" guesses. I'd be curious to know what assumptions they are based on.

As for the routing, what the Council seems to have been told is this: "Trolleys cannot share traffic lanes on streets we don't want you to let the trolley to run on, but can share lanes with traffic on streets we do want you to let the trolley to run on." That about it?

The development estimates seem, from what I've heard here, to be a good example of the well known principle of "grant me my assumptions and I can prove anything I want to prove."

Maybe the Mayor's new Toonerville Trolley is the answer. [Sigh.]

RudiZink said...

Welcome aboard, Rockstar!

RockStar75 said...

Thank you Rudi!

Dan S. said...

From the article, you'd think Burton was there for only the first 10 minutes of the meeting.

South Bench said...

So, they want the bus to run from the Intermodal, to the Junction, to Peletons, over to Roosters/Naysohs!, and back to the Junction.

No surprises there.

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