Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I wrote a letter to the editor, because "It’s time for some street smarts."

Published yesterday.


— It’s time for some street smarts

On Thursday, April 23, I was working from home, periodically jolted from the computer screen as Spring Street residents were treated to a preview of the street grid’s enduring malfunction, courtesy of the Main Street’s Deforestation Project. With brief traffic delays occurring on Main, heavy vehicles are self-diverting to nearby, unpoliced streets like ours.

In short, during one brief half-hour segment just before noon, I counted six dump trucks, six more garbage or related recycling vehicles, and five block-long semi-trailer rigs, all shaking the rafters as they thundered past my house on Spring Street.

If a single one of these vehicles was traveling anywhere close to the posted speed limit, I’d be very surprised.

Do school buses always drive this fast?

From the very start, the deforestation project’s chief architect, John Rosenbarger, as well as its same-engineering-firm-as-always design team (can’t we freshen the gene pool every decade or so?) have insisted that when completed, Main Street’s 13-foot wide lane widths would accommodate these destructive, pass-through monstrosities, most of which are not making stops in New Albany, but trying to find a shortcut from points east to points west.

From the very start, these protests have been both disingenuous and frankly insulting. The single point for pass-through drivers isn’t lane width; it is unobstructed speed of travel, and one-way Spring Street is designed to mimic an interstate highway in this regard.

Having become accustomed to self-diversion during periods like the present one, there is little chance these vehicles will return to Main Street when the project is finished, whether lane widths are 11 feet or 13 feet. Everyone involves knows this, but insists on saying otherwise. Spring Street residents are seeing more of these vehicles than ever before, feeling their homes shake, and vividly illustrating that not only are the “experts” incapable of effective street design — they also can’t lie very well.

All we can hope for is that Jeff Speck’s street study reveals the extent of their fabrications. In this town, you hope for the best … and plan for the worst.

— Roger A. Baylor, New Albany

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