Oct 1 2007

A 9/30/07 letter to the editor in The Daily Times proposed using remote parking lots and shuttle buses to Maryville High School as an alternative to paving over the neighborhood surrounding the high school in order to expand the school's capacity.

While I respect this forward-thinking transportation solution, I think we need to refocus the conversation. I am dismayed that we are talking about transportation solutions before education solutions. We need to pull these issues apart.

We exhaust ourselves planning for our cars. We seem unable to separate conceptually human beings from the steel that transports them. We conflate cars and citizenship, and we build communities that require people to have access to cars in order to fully participate in the community. We plan as if hospitality to cars in our downtowns or high schools or neighborhoods is the same as hospitality to people.

The truth is that too often we build spaces and host activities that aren't worth much of a commitment. We'll only participate or shop or eat when it is easy...when the commitment requires little more than the time it takes to navigate our cars through drive-through windows or into curbside pick-up spaces.

On the other hand, there are spaces and activities that are worth our commitment, and we participate even if car access isn't easy. We figure out how to get there because we want to be there. As a community we need to focus on building spaces and hosting activities worth caring about...worth committing to. Transportation to those spaces and activities will follow.

Let's make the Maryville High School expansion discussion about education. When we figure out the best way(s) to educate our children, there will be myriad ways of dealing with transportation. The transportation solution should follow and fit the education solution.

"When we figure out the best

"When we figure out the best way(s) to educate our children,..." Thank you for putting the (s) on the end of "way."

Civic Structures and their Impact

Unfortunately there is not the best precedent here in Maryville in terms of grand civic projects and transportation "features". The Maryville City Hall project removed an entire tract of what other cities may regard as historically significant dwellings, and built a cul-de-sac and retention pond in their place. These structures may be stately, grand, and a real improvement in office space/classroom quality, but they destroy the vitality surrounding them.

Any discussion of

Any discussion of transportation in Blount County is hobbled out of the gate by the fact that there is no public transportation whatsoever in Blount Co.

Unless you count the taxi stands at the airport. And technically that's in the City of Knoxville.

When I was growing up, there was at least the (unfortunately named) White Star Line (same name as the Titanic's line) that ran between Maryville and Knoxville. And if I recall correctly, you could get cheap transfers from your White Star ticket to other points in Knoxville.

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