Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NIMBYism and Unintended Consequences

Two Siemens LRV and a Bombardier bi-level coachImage by boltzr via Flickr
Any time a NIMBY wins a battle, there is often unintended consequences of that win. Sometimes the NIMBY's can end up with something worse than they were fighting against. Sometimes the consequence is a loss of something that could really helped the community in the long run.

In Salt Lake City, the west side of the city suffers from the victim mentality of NIMBY. They see things as a threat to their community because everyone likes to pick on the west side. While the west side did get screwed with the building of I-15 and I-80 that effectively cut them off from the rest of the city and the rebuilding that did not do the right thing and lower the freeway, the will often become their worst enemies by fighting projects that will ultimately help their neighborhood.

A perfect example of this is the Airport TRAX line. One of the plans for the line was to run it down 600 West and service Central Station in west Salt Lake. However, the west side fought against the project because it would have created a viaduct over the existing Union Pacific and Front Runner railroad tracks.

However, the section of the west side that would have been effected by this viaduct is minor. In fact it is actually cut off from the rest of the west side by I-15. In fact we are only talking about a few homes along the street along with a fairly new apartment complex at the corner of 600 West and North Temple.

Now instead of the viaduct, TRAX trains on the Airport will not serve the Intermodal Station at all and instead will continue to travel on North Temple, turn on 400 West and connect up with the existing TRAX lines at South Temple.

Now comes the unintended consequences.

Because there will no longer be a direct connection from the airport to Central Station, the two proposed hotels for the station area will not be built. While they would have not provide a huge amount of jobs, but they would have created new opportunities for economic development in a part of town that desperately needs it. With the addition of the hotels it would have been more likely that Central Station and Gateway could be connected through redevelopment.

However, all is not lost in the Central Station district. The city of Salt Lake does have plans on the books that would redevelop the area between Central Station and the old Rio Grande Station that would also connect those areas to downtown area.

While the west side NIMBY's may have won a battle in their area, in the long run their actions may have actually set back their area a decade or more.
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Silus Grok said...

Another unfortunate consequence: by forcing the TRAX line over the North Temple viaduct, they precipitated that viaduct’s premature rebuilding. Now the beleaguered businesses on west North Temple are faced with 18 months of drastically reduced business traffic.

Mike Christensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Christensen said...

I live along the North Temple corridor, am very excited to have the Airport TRAX line coming through my neighborhood, and plan to ride it often to get downtown. The reconstruction of the North Temple viaduct does have its negative impacts on businesses along North Temple, however, I feel that the impacts have been greatly exaggerated. We have been encouraged to “Shop North Temple,” but I rarely do, as worthwhile businesses along North Temple are few a far between. With the exception of the Red Iguana and a handful of other businesses, there aren’t any businesses along North Temple worth frequenting. The Red Iguana is proof of the fact, that if a business is worthwhile, people will find their way through the construction to get there. The lines that I see outside the Red Iguana everyday at lunch and dinner are proof of that fact!