Driving Us Nuts

We are hearing a lot about the need to elect a Mayor with a big vision for the city. I agree, but we ought not forget that management skills are also very important. It’s great to have leadership that knows where it wants to go-but it doesn’t do much good to know you want to go to San Francisco if you think you need to drive to the East Coast to get there.

We can argue about the financing of all the road work being done in our fair city–this administration’s willingness to sell off capital assets to fund operating costs, its willingness to shift costs from taxpayers to ratepayers, and the other games it has played, but done is done. What has me frustrated is the lack of management, co-ordination and plain common sense I see daily as I try to navigate the relatively short distance from my home to IUPUI.

I served in City Hall “back in the day” and I know it’s never easy to avoid traffic tie ups when you are fixing streets. Some inconvenience is unavoidable. But I remember the efforts made to minimize those problems, the planning that went into the process. There is no evidence of such planning in the current frenzy to pave every possible street before the Super Bowl (or perhaps before the election.) Work interrupts rush hour on our busiests streets. Equipment needed in Fountain Square to remove buried rail tracks is being used somewhere else, so traffic to stores in Fountain Square remains blocked for weeks more than necessary (with the result that some of those businesses didn’t survive). Streets are torn up, base pavement put down, then ignored for long periods until suddenly the paving crews are back to finish the top coat. If there is any method to any of this, it isn’t apparent.

I’m glad our streets are being paved, even if I worry about paying for it with fiscal smoke and mirrors. I just wish there were someone in City Hall with the ability to recognize the challenge of doing so much work with so many different contractors in so abbreviated a time frame–someone with the skill to manage the process.

Instead, the simplest trip is driving us nuts.