Mar 30, 2016

Tax Dollars At Waste in Lehigh Valley

As some of you know, I'm an opponent of rail to trail.  I suppose I'm not very progressive, I'm even against farmland preservation.  I oppose the rail trails because of the enormous squandering of that irreplaceable infrastructure. Farmland preservation is outright silly. We don't have a fraction of the farmers necessary to farm the existing farms.  How many people now- a- days would want to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week?  They're even giving grants to induce people into becoming farmers, how quaint.  In the real world, the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid land owners NOT to plant,  because of the massive excessive acreage in our area.  But, enough introduction, this post is about The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study, deciding to put their emphasis on hiking and biking.  Last evening I put up The Bicycles of Allentown Video for a short run. I will be removing it later today.  George Ruth sent the following comment;  When will we at least be honest and call it what it is: recreation! Does the Transportation Study really believe we are talking about "transportation"? These youngns' really do think we are just dying to be a European city.  The nonsense is the child of  the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, which spends about $1million dollars a year thinking about our regional transportation needs.  The grants are used to pay the salaries of the planning puppies, to do studies and recommendations, which result in nothing.  How many decades did it take Harrisburg to begin widening Route 22 ?

Recently, Molovinsky University gave a brief presentation on Allentown's former branch lines,  gone now forever.  Ironically,  after the track was torn out, and new data indicated that rail service fosters industrial growth,  AEDC started seeking a multi-million dollar  grant to restore track back to its 10th street complex.  Perhaps Scott Unger and these other planners should have spent more time at this blog.

Bonus Video in post below: The Bicycles of Allentown will show today only.


Ron Beitler said...

Lack of farmers is definitely an issue. But the farmland, the actual soil is a natural resource. One that's irreplaceable and locally unique in terms of our nationally significant quality. Without the base resource the farmer question becomes moot.

Yes, we need to do a better job of making farming more viable. And there are entities working towards that. The CSA model - local farmers serving local communities - is one example. Baseline remains without preservation of the resource you end the conversation.

I'm also other end of the spectrum in terms if bike infrastructure and complete streets. Both things I support. But I definitely agree with you rail to trail was a mistake. Same reasons that to not preserve farmland is a mistake. Very similar in fact. Yes, passenger rail is gone, but dismantling the rails and easements takes (in some areas) the option of it ever returning. It's almost always a mistake to tear out tracks.

These issues are similar. Both the rail easements/tracks and farmland are the infrastructure not easily replaced. Lose either we take away important options.

doug_b said...

Trails, bike lanes, all part of the liberal religion.

There is no logic to this. A railroad right away is a special thing, a corridor, carved out of what is now urban development.

The highest order of this religion are bicycles. While 1% actually use bicycles for real transportation, with 5 months of inclement (winter) weather, they really aren't an answer to urban transportation. Can you really see a person over 25 biking to an office job? Perhaps 0.005%.

As my city adds useless bike lanes - they are install wheel chair ramps, etc, all over the place.

Then there are the 'trails.' I can't think of another boring activity. I live on a lake. On a nice Sat / Sun there will be bikes / roller blades / joggers / baby carriages / a lot of hostility between them.

If it's not a nice day - there's nobody there.

This is scam that has been foisted on the public - in many, many cities.

michael molovinsky said...

ron@11:46, for some reason unknown to me, often comments from fellow bloggers don't come directly to me, but end up sitting unseen in the "awaiting moderation" file, sorry for the delay. although it is not my preference to reply to comments, your comment does require an answer. there's nothing unique about our farmland, any plane ride in the state or country confirms this reality. there's no shortage of food, any visit to a supermarket confirms that. i don't advocate incentives to eradicate farmland, but i'm opposed to all payments under farmland preservation programs. although i know numerous people who received such payments, i don't know one who otherwise intended to subdivide or develop their land. i know several cases where gentlemen farmers where richly rewarded by the program. such programs are quintessential political correct nonsense.

Robert Burritsch said...

As I basically said in my comment to the video that was posted, I'm not necessarily against bike trails as long as bicyclists pay for them through licensing and registration fees, and provided planners take our infrastructure into account. However, as it was noted, there aren't enough bicyclists to even make such a proposal. One to two percent of the population is negligible. Not that it matters, we're going to get bike trails whether they're cost effective and in demand or not. It just says "progressive" and that's what matters.

Incidentally, I went for a drive earlier today. I saw one bicyclist in the Parkway. I saw none downtown.

George Ruth said...

It seems to me that we should neither subsidize farmland nor change the zoning that permits it to be converted to warehouses and peoples' houses. I do, however, fear the day we regret paving over farmland and food becomes the 21st (or 22nd) Century's oil and we find ourselves importing corn and wheat, both crops we have in abundance.
(Full disclosure: both homes I have owned sit on former farmland)

michael molovinsky said...

george@7:03, we have so much over capacity in farmland that we invented ethanol, which makes no sense for any other reason than using up the surplus corn.

George Ruth said...

I hear you Michael. And I know that biologists are developing crops that can yield more in smaller areas. However, I see this farmland topic much like the 19th Century leaders saw railroad rights of way: they preserved thousands of square miles around 'projected' railroads in the hopes that it will someday populate those areas. Good discussion!

Ron Beitler said...

Robert @ 7:01
Cyclists do already pay. To have this conversation gotta have a full understanding of how road maintenance and construction is paid for in the United States. In large part it's general funds and debt. Once you understand that you see cyclists and pedestrians already pay more than a fair share.

MM's @ 1:25
That may be the case with gentlemen farmers in some cases but I assure you it's not in Lower Mac. Every inch of farmland that has been preserved and will be preserved, had it not, it would have been already or would be developed. Every inch. And even with the gentleman farmer example in some northern tier municipality where there may not be development pressure today, bank on it coming. Preserving today is a lot cheaper than preserving tomorrow. We know this all too well in Lower Mac.

With soil quality I've seen papers that demonstrate the strength of LV soils. In some locations I think it's limestone dolomite soils have 10x higher yields for corn than soil in Iowa. I'll find the source and share. It is special and unique and has to do with our limestone geology.

Thanks for writing blogs that generate good conversation - RB

George Ruth said...

Ron Beitler maybe be correct about cyclists paying indirectly for roads, etc. But that's true for everybody. What some might suggest is that in addition they pay a dedicated tax for the use of bikes on roads, just like gas taxes, registration fees, etc. Imagine the revenue if every bike in Pa paid their $36 yearly.
I don't even know if I support, but it sure would make the millennials realize nothing if for nothing.

Ron Beitler said...

Interesting. But I want to encourage cyclists not put up barriers. Since the net benefit of someone choosing to ride a bike instead of a car helps basically everyone. Less footprint, wear and tear, less congestion, less pollution, healthier people who benefit from riding. I know. I'm a weird bird. A market environmentalist. :)