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4:32 AM, Mar 5, 2003 toot this
3/5/2003 5:32 AM
I have changed the Ireland pictures page back to the same working condition for both IE and modern browsers, until I work the compatibility bugs out. Work has been a good deal busier since Geoff left two weeks ago. The workload for all the non-Rennaisance apps has been bequeathed to just Eddy and me. We take it in stride, though. I still manage some time to work on this site, and some side projects for work. Tuesday started warm and gloomy. Gloomy like it often is in early March. It then became cold, started sleeting, then freezing rain, then snow. This made for the scariest driving conditions I've seen since the Ice Storm last year. It took me about 20 minutes longer to get to work, on account of having to scrape the ice off my car, and drive snail-like, to work. I have a buddy that lives by my work, and works right by my apartment. He and I need to switch jobs.

I have been browsing the KC Skyscrapers forums, and have been engaging in idealistic discussions about the problems in Kansas City, and some possible solutions for them. Foremost, in my mind, is transit. Kansas City has an altogether disappointing public transit system. I don't hold their inadequacy against them, though. They are only doing what they can, with what they have. What they certainly don't have is ridership. The sad reality of Kansas City is that the only people who really ride the bus, with a few concerned exceptions, are the people who can't afford to make car payments and buy gas.

One very unfortunate behavior that has helped perpetuate this city's status as a "car town," is its continued and encouraged suburban sprawl. There are few things that depress me more, in this town, than driving to streets numbered higher than 100th, and seeing rapid development, while the urban core wastes away, in comparison. Suburban sprawl, I have found out, is something of a cancer to cities. An area will experience sharp economic growth, with new housing, retail, and office space popping up quickly, and will enjoy a period of success for about 20 or 30 years. After that, a steady decline settles in. This is evident in places like Raytown, Independence, Hickman Mills, Shawnee, Roeland Park, Old Overland Park, Waldo, and North Kansas City. They are all suburban places that are just not up to scratch with other parts of the sea of sprawl. Sprawl has that effect. It seems to "use areas up," and move on.

This pattern, while daunting, is entirely avoidable, in my opinion, and it all has to do with keeping the inner city, the urban core, healthy. There is no human urge, no physical law, no divine ordinance, that says that cities are incapable of staying vital and prosperous. Ironically, the principal cause of the failure of cities(and hence, sprawl, and the deadly cycle thereafter) is the action of the people we choose to see to the health of the city: government. Actually, government, in itself, inherently is a bad thing for something as characteristically capitalistic as a city. Government restricts, It impedes, it disrupts. The word "govern" is often used to describe devices that restrict the speed at which a vehicle can move, for example. This, and many other cities like it, have been severely mismanaged, through punitive taxation and zoning, which leads to economic opportunity leaving town, pulling monied residents with it.

But, that is neither here nor there. These are standard practices for just about all cities, and they can be worked around. Maybe someday, in more enlightened times, cities will realize that rewarding people for living and working there is a very lucrative pursuit. But again, I digress. The issue I am pushing with this short treatise is public transit. Put simply, it's far too easy to drive in this town, and the result is sprawl, pollution, and a weak urban core. What I propose, to remedy this is that the dozens of expressways in the Kansas City area need to be toll roads. Most people put on a face like they just ate broccoli when someone mentions tolls, so let me put it this way. Why should someone be paying a higher sales tax for a burrito or a pair of jeans, to support a transit system that doesn't work, while meanwhile paying high state income taxes to drive on bumpy, substandard roads?

I think that the people who use the roads should pay for them, instead of placing the financial burden on people who don't use them, when they pay taxes for things that are completely unrelated to driving on expressways. In doing this, a lot of taxes can be eliminated, and roads will improve, being better funded. These new funds will be far more than what is required for their maintenance, and can be used on things like public transit, because regardless of their viability, tolls will always infuriate people. These people will look to find alternate methods of getting to where they need to go, and will fill the ridership requirement of public transit.

This is the first of many thoughts of this nature that I hope to get written down in the coming months and years.

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