April 22, 2010

A thoroughly questionable statement

Not to pick a fight or anything, but take a look at state Department of Transportation's spokesman Kevin Nursick's comment today in defending the proposed busway between Hartford and New Britain.
Nursick said the busway project is one of the best examples in the country of a "thoroughly planned, thoroughly studied and thoroughly vetted transportation project."
That's pretty questionable.
Go back to the original study that put the busway at the top of the agenda rather than commuter rail or some other option. That study -- the one that was supposedly so thorough -- never gave even a passing thought to the commuting needs of Bristol or Plymouth, towns that together have more population than New Britain.
The study simply ignored all of us.
What really happened is the artificial planning lines of the regional government agencies created a truncated study that failed to take into account many of the issues that actually exist.
Since then, even the towns along the bus corridor -- particularly West Hartford and Newington -- have decided they don't particularly want the busway. But it just keeps chugging along anyway, waiting for the day when the plans turn into yet another strip of asphalt in a region that doesn't lack for roads.
I have no idea whether rail is viable or not. It may be a dumb way to go. Honestly, the issue really hasn't been studied.
Yet it is perfectly obvious that if this busway is an example of a thoroughly planned, studied and vetted project, there's something thoroughly wrong with the whole system that decides what projects get done.
Even Michael Sanders, who's heading the effort to build the busway, said today that the last study looking at rail was done a decade ago -- and only looked at the prospects for rail service between Plainville and Hartford.
Sanders also said that it's not the busway foes who have been disingenous: it's everyone.
"Both sides are disingenuous," Sanders said. "We need to find a place in the middle."
That seems reasonable -- a lot more so that Nursick, who called only the busway critics disingenuous.
So maybe we can all agree that what's really disingenuous is for public relations people paid by taxpayers to take sides instead of sticking to the facts.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

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