Thursday, November 19, 2009

UGH! Here we go again

In recent days, I seen so many incidents of stupidity it makes my head hurt.  OK, yesterday Ala. Gov. Bob Riley had a speech before the Birmingham Business Alliance where he proposed constructing an elevated toll road east of I-459 beltway to the Eagle Point Drive along U.S. 280.  Also the other portion of the proposal included a plan similar to what the officials in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Homewood have recommended for the U.S. 280 corridor, which includes adding express lanes along with entrance and exit ramps while removing the traffic lights from intersections in between the Red Mountain Expressway and I-459 beltway.  Now, I don't have a problem with the idea of constructioning the roadway as planned in between the Red Mtn. Expy. and I-459, but the other portion is tacky and short-sighted at best.  If one thinks building things like Austin, Tampa are the way to go then they are in for a big surprise.

Most of us that knows that developmental patterns of cities is that building more roadway, i.e. an elevated tollway is a BAD IDEA.  The area would be better served by an extension of an the western portion of the plan with express lanes along with entrance and exit ramps at intersections would be much wiser.  This is similar to what ALDOT used along the Memorial Parkway (U.S. 231) corridor in South Huntsville.  The long-term plans should eventually include the usage of mass transit such as bus-rapid transit (BRT) such as that proposed to be used in the ITP which can be easely converted to light rail transit (LRT) at some point. 

OTHER FOOLISHNESS: The lack of foresight and what I dub as "retail segregation", i.e., chasing the majority white and affluent households.  That's what has happened to the majority of retail in the region, i.e., Eastwood Mall, Century Plaza, Roebuck Shopping Center, Five Points West, and now the Western Hills Mall area around Fairfield and Midfield.  The Sears store at Flintridge Centre is closing Januray 17th.  Although, nationally the Sears Holding Corp. has been struggling financially, it's borderline acrimonious how quick these retailer will close in majority black areas, but keep their locations in areas where they have a more a timeclock on their existence than anything else like, uh, Riverchase Galleria in Hoover. 

Now before anyone would argue with me it's more about economics than racial composition, I understand that, but there seems to be more a prevalence of the shuttering of retailers in prodominately black or Latino areas whereas others are quick to open in far flung areas like Shelby County, Trussville, and Hoover.  However, the retailers needs to realize that these areas have incomes to support retail regardless of who makes up the racial composition of the surrounding areas. 

FINALLY: A new report was released by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association, and Partnerships for Prevention yesterday.  It depicted Alabama once again at the bottom in rankings of the health survey at 48th. 

Challenges in Alabama include a high prevalence of obesity at 32.2 percent of the population, high levels of air pollution, a high percentage of children in poverty at 23.7 percent of persons under age 18, a high premature death rate with 10,116 years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population, a high rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease at 358.8 deaths per 100,000 population and a high infant mortality rate at 9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births, the report noted.
Now everything isn't all bad for Alabama, but these things are very minuscule:
The report also said the rate of uninsured population declined from 13.6 percent to 11.9 percent in the past year and in the past five years, the prevalence of smoking decreased from 25.3 percent to 22.1 percent of the population.
Alabama has several strengths, the report said, including a low prevalence of binge drinking at 11.4 percent of the population, low geographic disparity within the state at 8.6 percent and high public health funding at $97 per person.
IMO, the stats weren't any better for Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi, or the majority of the South.  However, we are the fastest growing region in the nation with most states including Alabama posting  <4% growth of each state population in the past decade.  We gotta get it together on this front because we are killing ourselves slowly with this lack of sustainable, walkable communites, removal of physical education in schools, and the overusage of the private automobiles for short-distance and local travel.

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