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About greenblogger

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    Seattle, WA
  1. Don't build where we are today. Build where we will be tomorrow. Light rail will work in Northwest Arkansas. The time to commit is now. The historical growth of the region was based on, and centered on the railroad. Development and people in the region today largely move North-South to and from their jobs and shopping along a relatively narrow corridor within a short distance along the historical railroad tracks, I-540, and 71B, just as they did 80 years ago. There are just a bunch more people - with more almost certain to come over the next twenty years. I traveled north on Crossover from Fayetteville to Springdale yesterday during rush hour and was astonished by the long line of rush hour traffic heading south, stringing along at bumper-to-bumber speeds, with each vehicle containing just one occupant. The amount of wasted energy, resources, not to mention wasted time and pollution and greenhouse gasses was as bad as any big city. How many lanes do we need to add to Crossover this year? In five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Based on the region's geography and development patterns, light rail presents just one, but nevertheless extremely viable, cost-effective option for moving people around. In any scenario, we cannot continue to add lanes to I-540. We need choices.
  2. A few years back, I remember meeting someone who was promoting a light rail transit plan for Northwest Arkansas being proposed in conjunction with the University of Arkansas. They had professionally prepared maps, plans, drawings, and brochures. That group seems to have disappeared. What happened to that project? P.S. I just got back from Los Angeles on a business trip and rode the redline, blueline, and green line light rails. It was clean, faster than driving, easy, and took me everywhere I needed to go on business, plus to places I might never have gone - downtown Long Beach, Universal Studios, downtown Los Angeles, L.A. County Museum of Art, and Olvera Street. It was full of passengers from every walk of life, from well-dressed business executives to working people to college students. It was easy to imagine a similar above ground light rail for our area. My observation relevant for Northwest Arkansas is that while some of the routes were underground, the "above ground" tracks ran alongside freight car rail lines, down the middle of freeways, and in the middle of the streets. All these are viable options for light rail route choices in Northwest Arkansas.
  3. I'm confused... I read all this "hype" about Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas striving to be the green valley of the universe. Yet, the community transportation infrastructure has no viable car-pooling incentives, no meaningful public transit, the government doesn't mandate bi-annual smog checks on motor vehicles, there are no car-pool or bike lanes, traffic gets clogged on the highways around the employment centers (e.g., Wal-Mart HQ, NWA Mall, and around the UofA), building codes don't demand (or even encourage) sustainability, and my sustainability options pale in comparison to other cities where I've lived and travelled. Instead, we want to pour more concrete and asphalt (assuming the government/taxpayers can even afford to out-bid the Chinese for it), and hope we can dupe some wanna-be Wal-Mart vendor into opening a field office here because they read a press release that said we're a leader in all things green. Let's stop kidding ourselves that we're the green valley of the universe, and admit we're way behind the curve on sustainability. First, let's start working towards catching up with the rest of the country on all things green. And, stop following the broken path of believing if we pump out press releases, and pour more asphalt, "they" will come. The incredibly good news is the Northwest Arkansas community is realistically only about 175,000 citizens. We're not burdened by the challenge of dealing with millions of people needing to rebuild its infrastructure (and mindset) to meet the new world order (sustainability). Set the stage now for where the world (and Northwest Arkansas) is going to need to be. That begins with a new vision and model - and funding - for a viable future in transportation for the region. Then, I'll believe the hype about "green valley".
  4. Granite City, a Modern American upscale casual restaurant chain yesterday announced the closing of its Rogers, Arkansas location. The company has not previously closed a restaurant. The company expects the closing of the location will improve its restaurant-level EBITDA, cash flow, income and management focus. Since opening in October 2007, the restaurant has failed to generate positive cash flow and had approximately $1.3 million of net loss at this location since its opening. Many problems have plagued the location since the opening, including a significant delay in construction of a main road from the highway directly to the restaurant location and lower overall traffic from guests now plagued by high gas prices. "We are disappointed to be closing the Rogers location, but we feel it is the right decision as we work toward improving margins and cash flow," commented Steve Wagenheim, Granite City's CEO and President. "Granite City typically is able to open strong and grow its business through word of mouth about our food and service. With the main artery to our Rogers location closed we were never able to gain traction in the market. We were faced with having to spend a considerable amount of money to remarket the restaurant but felt that it was more prudent to focus our capital and personnel resources on those restaurants that drive our core concept. We are grateful to the customers and personnel in the Arkansas region who welcomed our concept and hope that we can one day move back into the market." The company is working with real estate professionals to find a replacement tenant for the location. At present, the company is obligated to pay approximately $400,000 in annual lease and interest costs related to the Rogers location.
  5. Light Rail in Northwest Arkansas is entirely feasible. First, most of the cash will come from the federal government. The region needs the leadership and vision to go after it. Second, using the existing rail right-of-ways is the best option - and would reinvigorate the struggling downtown districts of Rogers, Springdale, while improving ROI on Fayeteville and Bentonville downtown districts. Those communities were originally built around railroad stops in the 1800s (what is old is new again). Examples of using rail right-of-ways for light rail I've seen include the Blue Line in Los Angeles, Portland (OR), Phoenix, and San Jose (CA). Third, the region is laid out along a central corridor, lending itself to long-term (20+ year horizon) success with light-rail. Finally, will anyone use light rail in Northwest Arkansas? Yes! Build it and they will come. Northwest Arkansas is focused on where the world is today (a 1970s suburbia mentality) - instead, let's focus on where the world is going, and let's lead the way....
  6. While I love the region and our kids love the schools, Northwest Arkansas is in the stone age when it comes to public transportation and eco-friendly transit options. No one single option will solve the region's transit issues. The region, in an effort to catch-up to the rest of the planet, has the potential to lead the nation in creating the next generation of transit. However, I've seen nothing, not even federal funding, to indicate leadership. With an ex-president and a few candidates from the region, one would think we would get some money from the feds for transit development. If we're not careful and get off the dime now, Fayetteville and the corridor will look like the worst of the cities notorious for bad commutes in ten or 20 years (increasing pollution, traffic-choked streets, and morbid commutes). The Northwest Arkansas community is built entirely around the automobile with it's obsolete transportation planning and development guidelines, suburban sprawl, and "build more lanes and add another exit to the I-540" mentality. We moved here for work from the Northwest (U.S.) where we enjoyed ample choices, incentives, and options in transit, from extensive bike lanes to bus and light rail. Ride-sharing was part of the culture, starting with car pool lanes in the 1970s and light rail in the 1980s. I felt safer riding my bike in the extensive bike lane/trail network, and almost never drove my car (probably 5 times over 5 years) to work, even though it was about 10 miles away from our home (my employer paid for our transit passes). I say, "Build it now and they will come".
  7. First, I really like this blog. We moved here earlier this year from Seattle, Washington for work, and this has been a great forum to get the "insider" track on what's happening locally, such as eats, entertainment, housing, etc. without feeling I'm reading an ad. As an outsider just moving here, hearing Fayetteville describing itself as "Fayetteville and not Arkansas" in that video is insulting and embarrassing to me, even though we haven't traveled anywhere else in the state outside of a weekend 10 to 20 mile sightseeing drive to the north. All I can say is that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And, it reinforces what outsiders think of the entire state, which based on the ribbing I get from friends back home is not all that good. Chambers of Commerce copywriters are generally not that devisive or stupid. I hope they shift away from tossing insults at their neighbors.
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