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The $70 Million Road to Nowhere

What the “f-” is up with all the howling and yelping over the closure of F Street in Las Vegas?

For those of you not familiar with the issue, population growth in Clark County necessitated a widening of Interstate 15 just north of downtown Las Vegas. In the process, an underpass connecting the north side of F Street to the south side of F Street leading to the downtown area was sealed off.

Now Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D-Gaming/Labor/Mining) – the most conflicted special-interest legislator in the entire state – wants taxpayers to cough up $70 million to blast a hole in the wall and reopen the underpass.

I’ve been listening to and reading about this brouhaha for several weeks now and curiosity finally got the better or me. So I drove on over to F Street yesterday afternoon to see what all the fuss was about.

Turns out: Absolutely nothing.

On May 14, 2009, the Las Vegas Sun reported that “the street closure separates (the neighborhood) from the gleaming new developments of Union Park….and much of the rest of downtown. Shutting off access not only makes it more difficult for residents to access retail, medical and government facilities nearby, it makes it much more difficult for the community to develop economically.”

Pure, unadulterated, USDA bull.

First, F Street is decidedly NOT a major thoroughfare. It is, in reality, a side street. There simply isn’t much of anything – business or residential – on either side of the underpass.

Secondly, for the few people who might actually want to get from F Street on the north side of the underpass to F Street to the south side of the underpass and proceed to the downtown area, the closure of the underpass does not create, as Sen. Horsford claims, “an enormous hardship for the residents.”

Here’s all F Street area residents now have to do to access the retail, medical and government facilities and gleaming new developments in the downtown area:

From the intersection of F Street and McWilliams on the north side of the now-closed underpass, drive two blocks west on McWilliams. Turn left on H Street. Drive one block and turn left on Bonanza. Go one block and you’ll be at the intersection of F Street & Bonanza on the south side of the underpass.

Total driving distance: Less than 1/2 mile.

Total time it took me to complete the detour: 63 seconds.

As “hardships” go, this one falls somewhere below walking and chewing gum at the same time.

If the government has $70 million to throw away reopening this unnecessary underpass, then it sure as hell doesn’t need a billion dollar tax hike!

So, you may be wondering why such a major league stink is being raised over this decidedly insignificant matter and is, unbelievably, actually being taken seriously? Ah, that’s the $70 million question, isn’t it?

You see, and we’re not supposed to say this, but the section of F Street in question happens to be on the “West Side” of Las Vegas – which, because of racial hyper-sensitivities we’re not even supposed to call the “West Side” any longer even though, geographically, it’s on the….di-di-di….west side of Las Vegas.

As you’ve probably already gathered, this area of town is a historically black area where the residents still suffer from both an inferiority complex and a victim complex. Any governmental decision these nice folks don’t like – no matter the merit or logic – is cast as an affront to the entire African-American community and must be the result of lingering racism dating back to the slave days.

Indeed, the Sun story noted that Sen. Horsford – an African-American politician who isn’t a bit squeamish about playing the race card when it works to his benefit politically – said the F Street closure “would continue a decades-long pattern of disregard and mistreatment of the neighborhood.”

So this brouhaha is really nothing more than a vocal minority getting their feelings hurt over nothing, throwing a temper tantrum, and demanding a $70 million fix to make them feel better. And the spineless, guilt-ridden white-bread politicians in Carson City will in all likelihood once again succumb to the pressure and try to shut these nice folks up by paying them off with your tax dollars.

Only in America.