Opinion: Ridiculously Expensive CV Link is Unnecessary

CV Link

CV Link, the ridiculously expensive bike path planned for only parts of The Coachella Valley, took a little heat in Thursday’s Desert Sun newspaper (and props to the paper for bringing this issue to light).

The path, which we have been told will save everyone in Palm Springs from anarchy in the event of a disaster, was initially presented to the State of California for funding (the state is covering $10 million of the insane $100 million dollar price tag) as a means to help the poor.  Palm Desert Councilwoman Jan Harnik told officials “CV Link takes down barriers…it creates access to entertainment, to recreation, to employment, to education and to exercise.”

No one has explained exactly how the “barriers” to entertainment and employment are going to be “broken down”.  The path is scheduled to be built mostly along already existing roadways.  Are sidewalks too scary or something?  Yes, a souped-up path might look cooler – but it really is not going to change things for people who rely on public transportation to get from point A to point B.

The bike-path-on-steroids was the brainchild of a couple of Coachella Valley officials who were looking to score some government pork funding, as The Desert Sun offers:

CV Link started as a brainchild of Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit and CVAG executive director Tom Kirk, who were looking for creative ways to secure some of the $50-plus million in air pollution mitigation funds they knew was coming to the region.

A regular walking or hiking trail likely wouldn’t qualify for the funds. But one that allowed golf carts and neighborhood electric vehicles could.

Kirk at the time described it as the new “spine to the valley” and touted it as a potential way to ease congestion along Highway 111.

Which, I think we can all agree, there is no way this path will help “ease congestion” on Highway 111.

In a town where 125 degree temperatures is a possibility for 5 months a year, no one is going to forgo their air conditioned car or bus to bike 20 miles to work – and if they have no other option but to do so, than that is an even bigger public transportation problem that should really be addressed.  Are any of the snowbirds really going to leave their Bentley’s in their Bighorn garage and pedal on over to Spencer’s for dinner?  Is anyone other than a few Lance Armstrong weekend-wannabes going to actually use this thing?

Sure these questions are important when deciding to build a huge project like this – but politicians have been focusing on other aspects – and, be warned, this is where things get really stupid…

Benoit promised it would be “something dramatic, something iconic” that generations would use.

An “iconic” and dramatic “bike” path?  Give me a second.

Okay, I am back.

The plan received loads of funding: 10 million from the state, another 10 million from Desert Healthcare District (because old people riding golf carts on a concrete path screams health!) and 51 million bucks from South Coast Air Quality Management District – who claim on their website to be “committed to protecting the health of residents, while remaining sensitive to businesses” – a nice slogan that can be interpreted as “because your health is important, just not as important as making corporations stop fucking up the air you breathe”.

Amazingly, the path won’t include Desert Hot Springs (because sadly, those people are never allowed to have nice things).  How exactly do you build an “iconic” public transportation alternative that is a “spine to the valley” and a “means to help the poor” without including one of the Coachella Valley’s nine cities, not to mention it is the city with the lowest household annual income of all the desert’s cities?

The biggest argument against The CV Link can actually be found in a video that those behind CV Link made to promote the project.

The video features a woman jogging, some bikers, and people on a golf cart all doing their thing on existing pathways in The Coachella Valley. Then, through digital magic, the future CV Link is superimposed on screen. But here is the thing: by showing these people already doing these activities on existing paths all over town, it really just shows how completely unnecessary this whole thing is! Seriously, watch the video…

I do have to give credit.  $100 million dollars is an awful lot of money and bravo to our elected officials for chasing it down to be spent in The Coachella Valley. I know spending that coin on other things won’t get officials a plaque with their name on it on a new “iconic” structure and maybe not one of those corny hardhat & shovel photo opps at a groundbreaking ceremony – but, this is not about that.

This is about what is best for The Coachella Valley – and CV Link is overpriced and will do almost nothing to help the poor, improve public transportation, or help with air quality.

At least that is my humble opinion.  What do you think?