Wednesday, September 12, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 775



Staff Editorial


Jason C. Consolacion       Ed De La Garza 
Nikie Johnson          Christian Schmidt         Keenan Singleton

The mean streets

There was a time that, before the streets downtown were all but a memory, city planners spoke of a revitalized central area, one that could be
considered the hub of a metropolitan town. It would be the new Houston. People would flock to it just to walk its streets.

There would be light rail to attract the Olympics. Enron Field would make it feel just like all those other cities that forked over hundreds of millions
of dollars to keep baseball. The new basketball arena would complete the puzzle. It would be a grand plan.

But then they actually got started, and it's not that good.

Aside from the light rail project that will keep Main Street in shambles for up to two years, the new basketball arena on Crawford and Clay will
keep traffic to a crawl in that area until next year and Metro's Downtown/Midtown Transit Streets Project will make some areas impassible for the
next four or five years.

These projects, when completed, could very well revitalize downtown. They could help the Olympic committee decide Houston is the greatest
city in the world. They could make downtown easy to drive through and easy to access.

They all "could" happen. But what's happening in the meantime is that downtown's actually taking a step back while all the streets are torn to bits.
For every new business that will spring up near a new arena, many still have to close up shop because they've lost revenue.

It's difficult to get anywhere without having to traverse carefully around debris, signs or construction workers. It's difficult to visit any downtown
establishment at a reasonable hour. And that kind of takes away the desired effect. While Enron Field has gone on to help nearby bars and
restaurants, what about those along Main? Unless you happen to work downtown, you're not likely to want to eat there on a regular basis.

There is no easy solution. Metro isn't all of a sudden going to stop its projects and the Texas Department of Transportation isn't going to stop its
perpetual "improvements."

What would be nice, though, is if in the future, these same myopic planners could think about the present and the businesses that could be hurt.
Rather than tear up everything at once, why not try planning ahead?

No, wait. That's what got us in this mess to begin with.

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