To his credit, our new mayor recently disclosed serious mechanical and design defects of the in-hock ART. Project construction contractor Bradbury Stamm and a city councilor dismissed them as “punch list” items, but the problems are so material that Mayor Keller could not even guess when service might begin. More importantly, these initial revelations are only the first manifestations of a project flawed in its very DNA.
What led to this debacle, which just weeks ago former Mayor Richard Berry described as “one of the best designed transit projects in America”?
In our role as attorneys in the litigation unsuccessfully challenging the project, we reviewed thousands of documents to understand how carefully planners examined the appropriate features and necessity of a new rapid transit system. We concluded that each responsible level of government neglected or abdicated its obligation to independently and diligently carry out this review. Worse, they ignored public outpouring of critical information revealing grave conceptual mistakes.
Mayor Berry, intent on a signature project, adopted an at-all-cost approach throwing caution to the winds. That Berry furtively resorted to rented chargers to power his inaugural ART ride is a metaphor for the artifice behind the project itself. The Federal Transit Administration acted as Berry’s enabler rather than an oversight agency. Until it was too late, city councilors passively accepted ART as “the mayor’s project.” Even the State Historic Preservation Office, initially refusing to grant its approval, eventually capitulated.