Thursday, June 22, 2006

The tram tower grows taller!

tram tower construction, 6-22-06

The middle segment of our shiny new tram tower was bolted on sometime late last night, and here it is. Compare this to the photo I posted when the first segment went up.

My previous post just got a link from a guy who's working on building the thing, to illustrate what it is that he's working on. How cool is that?

So do I like the thing? Do I hate it? I haven't made up my mind yet, despite what all my carping and complaining might lead you to believe. Maybe it'll be totally fantastic once it's up and running, for all I know.

The most common complaint you hear about it is over the ever-growing cost. The public originally got a bargain-budget $15M figure, and now we're at $50M and counting. I don't really see why anyone's surprised the city & friends lowballed the initial estimate. You do that to get all the key players on board, and get construction started. Then it's easy sailing the rest of the way, because nobody wants a partially-built tram just sitting around gathering dust. It's the oldest trick in the book. I'd be shocked if it didn't happen when the great pyramids were built. And when people say nobody will care what it cost 75 years down the road, I'm sure they're right. Look at the St. Johns Bridge. The city spent way more than it needed to, and built what's still more or less a bridge to nowhere. The taxpayers were stuck with a huge bond debt right in the middle of the depression, and we could't afford to build any more bridges again until the mid-60's. But it sure is pretty. There's no denying that.

While I'm at it, I'd like to dispel a couple of common misconceptions about the tram. One, it is absolutely untrue that the tower grows -- poof, just like that -- every time the city lies about what it's going to cost. Two, there were no magic beans involved, here or anywhere else in the South Waterfront district. Those are just fairy tales, and they aren't even the right fairy tales. The thing would be much cheaper if magic beans or lying politicians were involved. No, the correct fairy tale is that we in this city are going to build an enlightened new economy where everyone is rich, upscale, thin, liberal, and ultra-educated, and nobody makes anything more complicated than a half-caf soy mocha. For everything else, we'll rely on the hard labor of cute little six-year-olds in China (but we'll try our hardest not to think about that part, because that would mess around with our precious inner calm).

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