After almost two decades of covering City Hall, however, I can recognize when engineers are reluctant to consider other options when it comes to a road project. I saw it with the late Paul Brum, city engineer, when it came to his insistence that rebuilding the Walnut Avenue Bridge was a bad idea, that it would be bad engineering and create a dangerous traffic situation compared to the at-grade road he preferred (he lost and the bridge was built).
We’ve seen a debate between the engineers who say at-grade crossings aren’t possible due to too many street intersections in a compact area at the boulevard’s west connection to the new I-40. And we’ve seen the at-grade advocates argue for a traffic roundabout assuming the engineers are correct about the crossings.
The engineers, in turn, argue a roundabout will cost millions, delay the opening of the boulevard, and have all but openly said “heck no, this won’t go.”
But have the engineers really explored all options?
I drove the area again this afternoon. And quite frankly, the traffic along Classen pretty much gives out along Sheridan Avenue.
Why is that?
Well folks, Classen used to dead-end about a block south of the old I-40 (the future boulevard path) until about a decade ago when it was extended a few more blocks into what is now a sleepy warehouse area.
What if Classen were to dead-end again at Sheridan Avenue? Would it be the end of the world? We certainly know that traffic is almost non-existent along nearby California Avenue. So what if California Avenue and Classen were to dead-end and not intersect with the boulevard? My skills at photo manipulation are horrendous. But check out the aerial above… what if it IS possible to do regular intersections?
I’m running into a lot of concerned folks who are asking, what will it take for engineers to seriously look at how to build the boulevard without elevating it, instead of spending their effort to justify their current plans? What if an outside engineering firm were hired that would not be subject to current egos involved in the current design?