Monday, December 02, 2013

Friends of Sulphur Dell founder tells news media that Jefferson St has "more than enough capacity" to handle more traffic than it already has

Pedestrians need friends, too.
Apparently the founder of the Friends of Sulphur Dell has already conducted his own traffic studies on car-congested, pedestrian-unfriendly Jefferson Street, and he draws his own conclusions about the impact of a new ballpark:

Other supports [sic] say Jefferson Street has more than enough capacity to handle the crowds. "We're also talking about off-peak hours for the most part," said Brian Heuser, a founder member of the Friends of Sulphur Dell. "It's a concern, but the overwhelming benefit here certainly outweighs the traffic concerns," he added.

But for some, a quickly approaching Dec. 31 deadline brings more reason for pause. "They may not have enough time to really complete a study to get a full look at what type of traffic really comes through this corridor," [Bill] Pittenger said. "I do think it is being overlooked."

Mr. Heuser's response to the news media does North Nashville a disservice. In any other part of Nashville, neighborhood leaders demand traffic impact studies on major thoroughfares be done before huge projects are approved. Why speculate about something he knows nothing about? The intellectually honest position is to say that we need to be thoughtful about this process and give it enough time so that the results of independent studies catch up with and inform our emotions for or against it.

I could just as easily resort to speculation the opposite way: assume for the sake of argument that Jefferson has "off-peak" hours (whatever "off-peak" means to Mr. Heuser). Traffic arriving on Jefferson St for ballgames and other ballpark events would extend peak traffic hours so that there would rarely be any break in traffic. Then Jefferson St becomes Nashville's latest version Hillsboro Road in Green Hills or Gallatin Pike at Rivergate Mall. Do we really need that kind of congestion during all waking hours of the day and night along this corridor?

But why can't we be more intellectually honest and demand a traffic study before jumping to conclusions? With Mr. Heuser's unabashed, uncritical, unrestrained boosterism we will never be able to leverage a complete streets project that would make Jeff St a corridor that works for walkable neighborhoods as well as for minor league baseball fans. As it is we cannot even leverage honest answers on the impact of a new ballpark.

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