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The fact that City of Austin staff is often inspiring and committed makes snafus like downtown traffic and the Fourth of July fiasco all the more perplexing.

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City of Austin staff are very perplexing. In contrast to some agitators, for the most part I've found them to be very sharp, very knowledgeable, and very committed. So how do we end up with such spectacular messes as the Bermuda Triangle of downtown street closures and July Fourth's potential traffic fiasco? I'm writing this on July 3 (we go to press Tuesday rather than Wednesday this week, but will still be printed and distributed on Thursday), but I'm assuming an equation involving 100,000 people and 2,500 parking spaces is not going to have a happy or simple solution.

I'm not being sly or disingenuous here. I'm genuinely interested. Ask most people who deal with the city -- sure, there are exceptions, but city staff is an often inspiring group. Some of the problem must be the very difficulty of running a city. A million-plus folks in the general area -- how do you service and satisfy them? I grant that, but something like the downtown traffic maze or the impending July 4 activities befuddles me. Here are obvious problems, very specific; here is a group of smart, dedicated folks: Why is there no easier solution?

Certainly, Austin's politically active community makes any decision-making process a long walk through a dangerous minefield. Almost any step can blow up in your face at any time. There are passionate special interest groups layered around any issue. Still, some problems seem so obviously and easily handled. We just visited Los Angeles, as impossible to control as a city can be, yet street construction is brilliantly handled. Construction on the narrowest street rarely impedes. Well, we'll wait and see what happens on July Fourth. (As we went to press, Capitol Metro announced it would be providing free bus shuttle service to the Zilker Park festivities.)

Hope you had a great holiday! Hope you're still on it when you're reading this! Lots of letters this week, so we'll just get to them! end story

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