Thursday, September 22, 2005

Opportunity Lost: The 1300 South Wal-Mart

A typical Wal-Mart discount department store.Image via WikipediaWal-Mart gets criticized at every turn from closing small businesses to being the cause of sprawl to how much it pays its employees. When Wal-Mart built its new store at 1300 South and 300 West in an area with a high degree of transit dependence it had the opportunity to show a new face and truly show it cares about the community.

Instead Wal-Mart snubbed its nose at the transit dependent in the area and showed its true hatred toward transit. Instead of building a store with access from the street since the store is only a half block from a TRAX station and on two bus lines, it builds a normal store with a two story parking lot as its only access. In addition it made access from the street so dangerous that many will not take there lives into their own hands to use it. To walk into the building from 300 west you have to walk along the parking lot with cars speeding through to their parking spots.

This store just is a slap in the face to many of the residents of the area who are transit dependent. However this is no real surprise when it comes to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is a large donor to such anti-transit groups as the Heartland Institute that has Highway Lobbyist Wendell Cox and is also supported by an array of highway institutions.

Of course blame also has to be leveled at the city of Salt Lake that let the poorly designed store be built in the first place. Like most cities all they saw was dollar signs in their eyes and couldn't give a rip about how well it was designed. There needs to be changes across the board to improve transit and to improve buildings to allow easy access for transit riders.
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