It’s time to get real about Broadway: A Busriders perspective // Es Hora de Ser Realista Acerca del bulevar Broadway: La Perspectiva de los usuarios del Camión

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PhD Candidate and Researcher at University of Arizona and community-based researcher Sarah Lanius

by Sarah Lanius

Last week members of the Bus Riders Union attended the Mayor and Council hearing on the RTA/County/City of Tucson plan to turn Broadway from Euclid/Park to Country Club into six lanes of traffic. Lots of ideas were bounced around regarding how the Broadway corridor can best serve the surrounding neighborhoods and long-time businesses located there, and to what extent that means more car-centric asphalt.  Well, actually, the debate last week was largely expressed through four dominant arguments (and one additional mammoth phantom framework that has haunted the whole process).  Simply put, these arguments for and against the Broadway widening looked something like this:

  1. (In support of more asphalt) Businesses have been waiting to know if it is safe to invest in their buildings, so the city should put them out of their misery and demolitish some buildings and give certainty to others moving forward. Reinvestment in the area can’t happen without the RTA money.
  2. (In support of more asphalt) Since the plan started as 8 lanes and now is 6 lanes with bus pullouts and wider bike lanes, it is a pragmatic compromise and the city should approve it.
  3. (Against more asphalt) The planning model that the RTA is following is out of step with the current moment and the future of cities that will be based on neighborhoods that nurture walkability, transit, and a mixture of residential and commercial uses.
  4. (Against more asphalt) The plan is meant to accommodate increases in cars that are not justified by current traffic studies or future projections. So what’s the deal?

What is the deal? The scary phantom framework lurking in the background here sure looks like old growth-machine politics stemming from the RTA and the County. Both have taken a rigid view of how the funds intended for the Broadway improvements (AKA the widening) can be used, and are tying the City of Tucson’s hands in being able to actually make the corridor work for the people. It’s time to get real about Broadway, and the Bus Riders have a plan to get us there:

  1. Broadway (the entire extent) should have a dedicated bus lane now.
  2. There should be NO bus pull-outs. Pull-outs slow down and burden the transit system.
  3. Busses should have signal priority at all intersections.
  4. These developments should happen now and RTA Broadway monies should be used to develop the dedicated bus lanes and accompanying infrastructure.

A dedicated bus lane along Broadway goes further to support the existing residents and businesses along the corridor than the RTA plan of 6 to 8 lanes for cars ever could. Paving more lanes to move cars through the city serves no one and wrecks our planet. A dedicated lane with signal priority support riders’ ability to get off and on along the line for work, shopping, or visits with friends.  If we want to talk seriously about our future then let’s put transit and economic-environmental justice at the forefront and create a dedicated bus lane now.

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Sarah Lanius on a subway as a friend snaps a shot.

Es Hora de Ser Realista Acerca del bulevar Broadway: La Perspectiva de los  usuarios del Camión

Por  Sarah Lanius

La semana pasada Miembros de la Unión de Pasajeros fueron a la sesión del Alcalde y el Consejo en la RTA/País/Ciudad del plan de Tucson para convertir el bulevar Broadway desde Euclid/Park a la country club en seis carriles. Muchas ideas fueron expuestas en como el bulevar  beneficiaria mejor al vecindario y negocios localizados ahí. Bueno, más bien el debate de la semana pasada tuvo cuatro argumentos muy fuertes (en particular mammoth phantom framework que debatió todo el proceso). Este argumento por expandir el bulevar Broadway se mira así:

  1. (en apoyo a más pavimento) Los negocios han estado esperando para saber si es seguro invertir en sus edificios, así que la ciudad debería compadecerse de ellos y darles la confianza a los que quieres progresar. No se puede reinvertir en el área sin el dinero de la RTA.
  1. (en apoyo a más pavimento) Como el plan empezó con 8 carriles y ahora son 6 con campo para las paradas del camión y un carril más amplio para las bicicletas, es una negociación lógica y la ciudad debería aprobarla.
  1. (en contra de más pavimento) El plan que tiene la RTA está fuera del momento y del futuro de las ciudades que se basan el los vecindarios que apoyan el camino, el tránsito, y una mezcla de usos residenciales y comerciales.
  1. (en contra de más pavimento) El plan significaba acomodar el incremento de los carros que no son aceptados por el estudio del tráfico o los efectos futuros. ¿Así que cúal es el acuerdo?

¿Cuál es el acuerdo? El tétrico phantom framework esperando en el fondo de seguro parece una maquina vieja derivada de la RTA y el País.  Los dos tienen un punto de vista muy firme de como deben ser usados los fondos para ampliar el bulevar, y están tratando de hacer que la Ciudad de Tucson haga una vereda para la gente que camina. Es tiempo de ser realista con respecto al bulevar Broadway, y los usuarios de los autobuses tienen un plan para llegar ahí:

  1. El bulevar Broadway (toda la ampliación) debería ser para hacer un carril dedicado para los camiones ahora.
  1. No debería haber las paradas de camión (a la orilla de la calle), hacen que el tráfico sea más despacio.
  1. Los camiones deberían tener señales en todas las intercesiones.
  1. Este desarrollo debería hacerse ahora y el dinero para el bulevar de la RTA debería ser usado para ampliar los carriles para los camiones y sus servicios básicos.

Un carril para el camión en el bulevar Broadway y la vereda deben ser comenzadas para apoyar a los residente y negocios ya existentes en lugar del plan de la RTA de los 6 u 8 carriles. Pavimentar más carriles no le ayuda a nadie y daña el planeta. Un carril dedicado al camión con señales apoyaría primeramente a los usuarios para subir y bajar del camión para ir a sus trabajos, de compras, o visitar amigos. Si queremos hablar seriamente de nuestro futuro entonces vamos a poner el transporte y la justicia de la economía ambiental al frente y crear un carril dedicado a los camiones ahora.

5 comments

  1. Colby Henley · · Reply

    Great points Sarah – Bless you! Here’s what we’re telling the Mayor and Council about why we need dedicated transit lanes on opening day:

     Many of the other proposed modifications to the 30% design are intended to reduce/avoid damage; dedicated transit lanes are the one feature that could actually add value to the design

    Dedicated transit lanes are an equity issue – Broadway was always supposed to be the poster project for equitable investment in ALL modes – see the project logo with the giant bus and bike

    Dedicated transit lanes signals to the business community that the City is invested in this corridor; just adding car lanes ensures empty lots for years to come but dedicated transit lanes can actually spur appropriate urban infill that will bring back economic vibrancy

    Dedicated transit lanes mean cars don’t wait for buses and no bus pull-outs are needed, reducing acquisition costs

    Dedicated transit lanes improve transit performance, thereby actually growing ridership to support future transit investments

    Dedicated transit lanes provide an additional safety and comfort buffer to bikes and pedestrians

    Even if we are to believe the traffic projections, we won’t return to 2010 traffic levels for at least 9 or 10 years post construction. That means dedicated transit lanes on opening day won’t diminish traffic flow and will allow time to grow ridership while securing funding for High Capacity Transit (BRT/Streetcar/Light Rail)

    1. Colby, excellent points! thank you for your comments. My name is Cesar Aguirre and I am a member of the Tucson Bus Riders’ Union. We will be holding a press conference on Tuesday morning at 11:30 in front of City Hall. We would really appreciate it if you could join us for the press conference and speak to some of the points you’ve made above. Please call me or Brian Flagg and let us know if you are willing/able to make it. My number is (520) 878-3044 or try Brian at (520) 624-0312.
      Thank you

  2. templeton · · Reply

    Keep the current center turn lane to maintain pedestrian (think wheelchairs and strollers) connectiins ACROSS Broadway, no medians.

  3. Sarah Launius · · Reply

    Thanks for your comments Colby and Templeton. Templeton is right on point – as we widen roads they become more challenging to cross as pedestrians. Signal times as well as HAWKs (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) along the corridor need to reflect this but the best option for pedestrians is to not widen the road but to invest in sidewalks. Colby, your points above are critical for what any additional lane options must include and I know you have been advocating for multi-modal transit throughout the Citizen Task Force process (and again at the M&C meeting). Any widening must include a dedicated transit lane and we should also be asking, as we do in this blog, why are we not talking about dedicated transit lanes now and within the existing two-lane build.

  4. […] Coalition and the links below are to articles appearing in the Star, the Tucson Weekly, the Casa Maria blog, and the Tucson Progressive. […]

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