FRESNO DRIVERS IN HADES
Council Members Oliver Baines, Clint Olivier, Sal Quintero and Esmeralda Soria are BRT advocates.
Quintero at the Jan. 28 meeting: “I know we’re looking forward to the changes on the Kings Canyon/Ventura corridor. It’s really important for the ridership we have there. I really appreciate all the hard work.”
Olivier: BRT probably won’t attract hipsters, but “it’s still something that shows this organization’s commitment to the people who live along Blackstone Avenue and who live near Blackstone Avenue. Let’s try it and see how it goes.”
Baines: “People in Fresno actually do ride buses. I don’t see this as a wild, reckless investment at all.”
Soria: “This is a good project for our community.”
Council President Paul Caprioglio voted yes, but was content to ride herd on a debate that threatened sometimes to tumble out of control.
Brandau and Brand were skeptics.
Brand didn’t like BRT’s big price tag. He wanted to know why the low bid came in so much higher than the engineer’s estimate and the official budget.
In essence, the administration said: 1.) the original estimate was not based on reality; 2.) the city will stay within the budget thanks to “value engineering;” 3) the higher price tag can be handled with ease if the city gets the Measure C grant (which is a definite possibility).
Brand said it’s “convoluted logic” to take a bunch of stuff out of the BRT plan in the name of value engineering, then try to put it back in with a grant. He said it would be smarter to put everything back out to bid, even if this adds months to the timeline.
“I would rather have a final product that has all the stuff we really want in it,” Brand said. “The more we’re ratcheting down, the less likely we’re going to be successful. If we’re going to do it, in other words, let’s do it right.”
Brandau pretty much had the final word. He said he had recently taken a FAX bus from Northwest Fresno to the Fresno City College area. He said ridership varied from two to about a dozen. He said City Hall should be focusing on improving the existing FAX system and fixing Fresno’s streets.
Brandau: “The rest of us are suffering like hell out on those roads.”