Probably my biggest frustration with DMC has been the inability to make important decision on how we are going to get people to and from downtown. We do not have and will never have the major street capacity to have people drive downtown to work in the same percentages we do now. Our contract with SRF has been quite expensive and I think we are far better building our own team capacity. I have been looking into certain elements of the SRF spending and it appears they are often acting as a very expensive middle man. It’s time to take the DMC infrastructure planning and infrastructure in house.
We kinda know what we need. A mix of remote parking and ride lots (even extending into our bedroom communities), a frequent transit line the runs through downtown and by St. Marys, and terminal points on either end where huge numbers of people can access transit and park if necessary. So far we really haven’t made the tough decisions. In general, the current thought is one end would be near Civic Center Dr / Highway 52 or the West Lot at Cascade Lake (my preference). The other end could be anywhere from the Fullerton Lot to K-Mart to just North of Graham Park. That said actual decisions are hard to come by. I would expect areas in and around these terminal transit centers to include substantial mixed income housing.
The big hold up has been what are we going to do about parking and frequent transit access. Building substantially more ramps downtown is not a viable option. A structured parking spot costs upwards of $50k now (I have requested data on Parking Ramp #6, adjacent to the Hilton). At that price the very same people clamoring for more parking are simultaneously unwilling to pay for it. Further and analysis was done to show what would be needed to park vehicles in the way we always have and the results was a full block sized parking structure 104 stories tall. Of course even then we couldn’t actually get to and from there at peak times.
Staff has prepared some criteria which I think is headed in the right direction. And not just because this is almost verbatim what I suggested for the location of the next city ramp.
- Accessibility (Ability to get to and from the site)
- Route Efficiency (Speed / Ridership, etc.)
- Economic Develop (On the site and/or along the transit route)
- Site Acquisition (Costs, Timing, etc.)
- Relationship to existing amenities.
The one I would add is the efficiency of facility design given site constraints.
Not surprisingly there have been some private discussions where people are trying to steer the process to their own benefit. This needs to stop and those discussion need to take place in public.
In 2019 we will take some more major steps towards making biking & walking safer throughout downtown. This gives some people a healthy alternative, particularly for those living in and around downtown. It also makes it easier for people to get to and from transit stops.