Thursday, July 1, 2010

What happened at City Council?

Nothing, really. The City Council, whether purposefully or accidentally, had an item on the docket not only referencing the park-adjacent convention center location but also committing over $1 million dollars in unused funds from the G.O. Bond to a highway ramp for Robinson. The funds are actually for a "ramp box" which is just a platform for complicated ingress onto the new Crosstown Expressway.

Basically, this whole I-40 project has turned into a disaster. Not only is it experiencing un-Godly cost overruns, but it was supposed to be an entirely depressed freeway like the Connector through Downtown-Midtown Atlanta. Well, surprise, there's a water table. So now it will only be 8 feet depressed, which means that I could stand up against the edge and easily touch the grass up on the ground. There are trucks that are at least 12 feet tall, and my suv is about 8 feet tall--to put into perspective how "depressed" this highway will be. The result is that we basically have an at-grade freeway and not a depressed freeway, which may cause this Core to Shore thing to need some complete rethinking. So much for removing a "barrier."

I also don't understand why the city is now having to pay for highway ramps, either. I thought ODOT was committing everything not covered by the feds. If anything, this is a very telling sign that the city is going to be picking up the entire tab for any kind of replacement boulevard for the present Crosstown. We knew that a while ago just looking at ODOT's 8-year plans, but now there can be no doubt. It would be nice if we could use any "uncommitted funds" from the G.O. Bond towards that, but apparently we're also paying for exit ramps..which I thought were typically included in a controlled-"access" highway. I still think that catapults strategically placed around the city would be far more efficient than what we've got.

I've come to the conclusion that so far this ramp and the $30 million that has been guaranteed to OG+E for the substation land do not preclude the locating of the convention center. There will need to be a Robinson ramp anyway because Robinson is going to be one of the entry points for the new Crosstown. The substation will also need to be gone regardless of where a convention center goes. If you put condos and retail there, those are also incompatible with a power substation next door no matter how fond you are of "grit" (which I am very).

The only thing that precludes the location of the convention center, which we're being told will be a "process," is the city's mindset. When you take the money to buy the OG+E land out of the convention center budget (apparently it was being factored into the $270 million share of MAPS 3), and when you have language on the city council agenda (that is supposedly accidental) referencing where the convention center WILL go, it's pretty evident that there is a "conspiracy," to use Mayor Mick's term for it, if he wants to go there..


Platemaker said...

Nice job at the meeting, Nick!

Anonymous said...

When was the last time you saw this core to shore or Maps 3 video?

I buy into the conspiracy theory of convention center. The location of the convetion center has been decided long ago, no public input necessary.

Mark said...

Thank you for keeping on top of this.

Blair Humphreys said...

Nick - nice post. And thank you for contributing your time to be an engaged citizen.

Good thoughts, but I would ask you to reconsider one thing:

"If you put condos and retail there, those are also incompatible with a power substation next door no matter how fond you are of "grit"..."

There are surely other options to ameliorate the presence of the substation. Here is an example of a building built around a substation: ...and the question should not be whether the substation is less than ideal, but whether relocating the substation is the most effective use of $30 million. As a point of reference, the Bricktown Ballpark cost us only $34 million. Until other options have been explored it is depressingly poor form to pledge MAPS 3 money for this project with no public input, no previous public notice, and no fact-based, open discussion.

Walker, Downtown Ranger said...

I'm not sure how valuable the Brick is for cost comparison purposes considering that its nearest peer ballpark was built in Memphis for in excess of $80 mil. I can not explain why the Brick, an incredible facility, only cost $34 mil.

I like the idea of encasing the power substation with a structure like that. I know a lot of college campuses do this, although they just cover it up with a plain facade. When I think of putting a false facade in front of a substation I immediately think of the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. It's an especially great idea considering that you could count it towards bulk infill, not to mention make it into something interesting and worthwhile in its place in the cityscape.

jen said...

I wish i understood the depressed highway stuff. but, i don't think i have to understand it for it to depress me!!!