Pedestrians abandoned

The recent destruction and removal of the Eighth Street pedestrian bridge over busy Interstate 35 is a good analogy for the dystopia of our times. The die was cast for its removal a decade ago. Downtown Waco was a lot different then, but engineers at the Texas Department of Transportation were unable to adjust to the new reality today. While the bridge was not attractive, it was functional, and it will be missed by many.

TxDOT spokespersons have said that replacing the bridge would be “too expensive.” Please. What is your definition of expensive? The current I-35 project will cost at least $340 million to improve and expand just over six miles of highway. Presumably, the other six miles will be about the same expense. And there is not enough money here for a pedestrian bridge or two?

According to TxDOT data, from 2010 to 2018 in Waco there were 441 pedestrian “crashes” involving people on foot being hit by vehicles that resulted in death or serious injury. In the same period, there were 157 bike “crashes.” Data show that many of these crashes occur near I-35 and Baylor. Those data periods factored in the bridge. What will it now be like without it? I shudder to think.

Roads and bridges are not built to serve vehicles. They’re built to serve people. Vehicles are just part of the infrastructure that serves people. TxDOT’s focus on road-widening serves their agency in facilitating Texas through traffic; it does little to serve the communities through which their roads pass. If the agency had direction and imagination, I believe a small fraction of the one-third-billion-dollar project could be used to build human-scale infrastructure, in this case a beautiful and functional pedestrian bridge. We need at least three actually — folks in Bellmead need one, as do folks in East Waco.

Dave Morrow, Waco

Golfing with Herod

Many thanks to Washington Post columnist and former Bush White House aide Michael Gerson, raised in an evangelical home, for his insightful column in Wednesday’s Trib regarding the heinous hypocrisy and blasphemy of Rev. Franklin Graham in urging Americans to pray for President Trump to prevail against his “enemies.”

In trying to employ prayer to manipulate God into protecting the disingenuous tyranny of President Trump, Rev. Graham has turned himself into a Simon Magus, a man who attempted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit so that he, personally, could decide who gets the power and who does not (Acts 8:9-20). As Mr. Gerson observes, “Who could possibly believe that the God of Creation could be at Graham’s beck and call in defense of Trump?”

Franklin Graham’s desire for a special Day of Prayer for Donald Trump shows how far evangelicals have wandered from the gospel of Jesus. You never would have seen John the Baptist playing golf with Herod.

Hal Ritter, Waco

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