At the 10/6/11 City council Meeting, council members approved a half-million grant from the Federal Government (Your tax dollars at work) to prepare St. Petersburg’s Central Avenue for “Bus Rapid Transit”. The local governments, PSTA and regional planning organizations continue to press to grow fiscally unsustainable public transportation projects that have low ridership and are generally not needed. This story indicates that maybe it would be wiser to let the local folks keep their Federal Tax money and avoid funneling it through multiple layers of bureaucracy as it is being spent on unnecessary projects with hidden costs.
Central Avenue at 8th Street looking north at sidewalks that are in desperate need of improvement and “texturizing”. A new Federal Grant for the City of St. Petersburg will make sure that it is done by no workers that text while driving and in an “environmentally just” way.
The money will be used to “improve” sidewalks between 1st Ave. S. and 1st Ave. N. along the following streets: 8th St. ,22nd St. and 31st St.. Now a simulated Google drive down these intersections (maps.google.com) seems to indicate very good sidewalks in place. But apparently, special sidewalks are needed for a rapid bus transit system that doesn’t even exist yet! Also to be built will be the beautiful aluminum mast arms to hold traffic lights, some more shelters and some pedestrian access points. This project is part of the 2035 long range plan of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and certainly there will be no need to upgrade any of this work at this time…could there? One wonders why the PSTA doesn’t merely forgo 1.1 million in bus driver raises to pay for this. Especially since everyone without jobs is watching those with government jobs get raises and government jobs do busy work. Certainly low cost bus shelters could be built for under a few thousand dollars each? Wait, this is the government.
While the grant is reported as “no cost” to the city, it is likely that the workers doing the jobs will build hours that will need to be covered by our taxpayer funded pension plans and the same workers will also need to have their overpriced health plans covered as well. In addition the administrative staff will cost money to funnel money from the federal government that came out of our pockets to begin with.
What is kooky about this? Well, the grant, indicates that the city workers must avoid “texting while driving” according to a 2009 Presidential Executive Order. The city must ensure the project ensures “environmental justice”. It must ensure access to the project to people with “Limited English Proficiency” even though English is the official language of our state according to the Florida constitution. There is also an agreement to prefer the use of recycled materials (even if it costs more). These are ways that the city ignores the interests of its own citizens in favor of Federal dictates that are often handed down through international agencies like the U.N.’s agenda 21 which recently was the inspiration for the executive order signed by President Obama in June promoting “Environmental Justice” (this link won’t work here so please see it below). Further, the grant requires compliance with the 1931 Jim Crow era “Davis Bacon act” which disproportionately favored unionized, white laborers earning more than market rates. This costs us more financially and socially and keeps unskilled laborers out of work at a time when they need it most!
So, take a look at the other intersections and see what you think. Do these sidewalks need more Federal money for improvements to prepare for a bus system that may never come?
22nd St. at Central Avenue Looking North. Clearly these sidewalks need a federal grant to fix them up.