It’s been a couple of years since I’ve sat down and watched a council meeting. Lately, I’ve had an interest in the city’s road diet on main street so I decided to watch the council meeting of June 3. I noticed only a few of our tax-paying citizens (out of a room full) were given the opportunity to speak but that may have been a pre-arranged understanding, I didn’t know.
The term “road diet” doesn’t quite fit our main street as I see it, but I wonder if road “gastric bypass” is a better description?
Last year I wrote a column called “4 lanes For Main,” before the lanes were re-striped. It was about my selfish desire to keep the lanes as they were, totaling four.
My feelings were at that time, “Why do we need a quadruple bypass if the arteries aren’t plugged?” Since then, engineer Jenny Craig came to town and put us on a road diet royal. She not only slimmed down our roads, some of our businesses’ cash registers are losing some weight as well.
I hesitate even commenting on our new main street for fear of ending up with toothpicks underneath my toenails, but my conscience left me no choice. I am on main street a lot during the day and there are certain times of the day it’s nearly impossible to navigate the street. More than once I’ve experienced situations where I was going to turn left in the middle turning lane only to have someone approaching me head-on. When it comes to head-on collisions, I’ve gotten in the habit of avoiding them. I’m just not as tough as I used to be.
The other day I tried to pull out on main street from Westendorf Auto. The cars were lined up bumper-to-bumper going east, all the way up the hill to the church on the curve. I thought it was a funeral procession while relocating Elvis Presley’s body to Waverly. I heard it said that we are experiencing added traffic due to the bridge being repaired but these were cars coming into town from the east.
Yesterday, an officer had someone pulled over to the curb on main street. His squad car was parked behind them. It’s always been my understanding you are supposed to pull to the left, away from the officer for their added safety. I didn’t know what to do in that case. I could have pulled to the middle turning lane and risked a head-on collision (see above mentioned — not that tough anymore) or keep driving, placing the officer in an unnecessary safety risk.
A friend told me he pulled out of The Other Place onto main street and got behind a person driving 20 miles per hour the entire length of main street. There was nothing he could do but remove his foot from the gas pedal and idle his way down the length of main street.
It’s hard to witness the long lines of traffic in the outside lanes going both directions and yet enough bare concrete between the lanes to play a round of tennis on. I don’t believe enough can be said for the businesses on main street. I fear this road diet is giving some of our businesses malnutrition.
I for one have made a conscientious effort to avoid main street and find a simpler, easier way to get across town. I wonder if others are doing the same? I can’t see the benefit to the businesses on Main with citizen’s avoiding main street.
It’s coming to the point where our city is becoming divided and it seems the mayor and City Council are becoming the villains. I believe the council has always tried to act in the best interest of the city. The fact that none of them are road engineers, I would assume they are relying on and trusting in the input from the DOT.
I am certain they have all made calls to other cities with road diets, as well as additional research. I believe six out of seven voted for the Jenny Craig road diet. It could be the DOT dealt a hand of four aces face-up and they based their decisions on the cards that were dealt to them. If the dealer was blind, the cards were marked or the deck stacked against them, they would have no way of knowing.
I guess we have to wait for the next “professional” evaluation and hope it accurately shows all of what we are experiencing in Waverly. For the time being, we have no choice but to live with it and pray we never have that person who could have lived without it.