Time for city to cut losses and run on new train station

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005

The board of aldermen admitted last week that mistakes have beenmade in pursuit of a proposed multi-modal transportationfacility.

We have to agree.

With the project’s fate now at a critical juncture, cityofficials must be careful that no more mistakes are made and nomore city tax dollars are wasted on the venture.

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While the board was led down the primrose path during the MayorBill Godbold administration, aldermen must take responsibility forthe train station fiasco now. Only now are real answers aboutfacility costs, need and potential usage starting to come tolight.

Under current circumstances, aldermen are faced with theprospect of having wasted about $50,000 on engineering fees andhaving nothing to show for it or having a much scaled-back facilitythat may or may not be home to train and bus services.

Whatever form the facility may take, it seems certain to be afar cry from the grandiose vision of transportation services,restaurants, museums and other attractions that supporters pitchedin getting federal money allocated for the project.

Even if the facility is built, city officials have received nocommitments from train or bus lines regarding its use, and it isunlikely to accomplish its intended urban renewal goals for thearea.

Also, streets to the proposed location on North Railroad Avenueare less than ideal, and it seems that would have to be addressedin some way in the future.

In September 2003, a scaled-back version of the multi-modalfacility barely survived on a 4-3 vote by the board of aldermen.Since then, no additional city money has been spent on theproject.

Momentum for the transportation facility has slowed greatly inrecent months. Perhaps now the best course of action for aldermenwould be to abandon the multi-modal facility project altogether andchalk up the boondoggle as an expensive lesson learned.