I was listening to the CBC this morning, while getting ready for work. During one of the stories they were covering, people in Edmonton were being interviewed and two of the quotes from the people went like this:
"We need it, desperately" and, "It will be a godsend."
What might these people have been talking about? What is the "it" that is so longed for, to the extent that receiving it will seem like a gift from God? Is it affordable housing? Is it public water fountains so people can get a healthy drink when they need it? Extra funding for the food bank? Cancellation of extra school fees so that public education is actually free like it's supposed to be? Nope, it was none of these things.
Well then, how about an extension to the public transit system? A tuition freeze maybe? A halt to the urban development that is eating up prime agricultural land in Edmonton's northeast? Nope, none of these things either.
Instead, it was this: a plan to 'fast track' the building of seven (!) overpasses on a segment of Anthony Henday drive, so that people don't have to wait at traffic lights any more. Yes, by 2015, the Henday will be a 'freeway' at last - a veritable gift from God to the automobile commuter, via the responsible stewardship of the Alberta government. Who could ask for anything more?
And how much might these 'freeway' improvements cost? Well, according to the CBC story, the government won't even estimate the price until they receive some bids for the job. But considering that one overpass in south Edmonton was estimated to cost at least a quarter billion dollars when construction started last year (and has since gone over budget), I guess seven bridges could run in the neighborhood of 1.75 billion.
Millions, billions -- who cares, right? It's not like the money is needed for other things.
Sorry, my cynicism is showing.