Monday, September 26, 2005

Another objection to the north side tunnel

The Billy Budd Memorial Tunnel - A perfect example of twisted public policy regarding federal funding is this lame-brained idea: build a tunnel under the Allegheny River to extend Pittsburgh's tinker-toy subway to the stadiums on the North Side.
And do this in the City of Bridges, no less.
Forget about the tough questions, like these:
At a time when we are constantly reminded of the threat from terrorists, why would anyone propose a mass transit tunnel under a river?
Or, is it worth hundreds of millions of dollars to spare us a brief passeggiata across a picturesque river that most folks find irresistibly charming?
Whatever the cost -- and it already has grown beyond the experts' estimates -- this project may well be immoral in light of the problems in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
At best, elective construction of an unnecessary tunnel under the Allegheny River is purely frivolous in a town that prides itself on practicality.
So, where are the leaders who can help Pittsburgh do the right thing?
Who can lead the compassionate citizens of this region away from this excess and see that this money gets spent where it is sorely needed?
This much is axiomatic: Blowing that money here is unconscionable when it can be used to rebuild lives along the Gulf Coast.
As for now, this proposed hole in the river is a juggernaut, driven forward by the natural instinct of local government to spend, spend and spend any and all federal grants without concern for the merits of the project. But by breaking a few rules and taking the high road, the transportation dollars earmarked for this boondoggle will be well spent in our battered sister states.

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