Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stimulus to Nowhere

I read with fascination Sunday's Statesman, in which they previewed ACHD's potential stimulus programs.

Now, before I go further, I'd just like to say that this is really not a stimulus bill that Congress passed in a hurry. Giving unemployed people more unemployment wages (taxable of course) is nice, but no unemployed person ever created a job. Saving or creating 3 1/2 or 4 million jobs is not really accurate since most of the money goes into government coffers. Unemployment in government jobs is not really the sector that's hurting, neither are education and healthcare, which is where the vast bulk of the $785,000,000,000 ish ( plus $350,000,000,000 ish in interest costs each and every year into the future) will go.

But I digress and the whole issue is both maddening and depressing.

So apparently ACHD's stimulus money is going to be spent (if we get any) on 67 intersections, traffic signal upgrades for Curtis and Ustick and reader boards on Vista Ave, Orchard St and Meridian Rd north of the freeway.

I recall hearing about the traffic signal upgrades to Curtis and Ustick but not about 67 intersections and I have no idea where the readerboards came from. Maybe they're included in the upgrades but since those happen at Curtis and Ustick, and Vista, Orchard and Meridian Rds aren't like near there, I have no clue - and theoretically I've been briefed, as have the other Commissioners.

What I recall discussing, and I have been at all the meetings, I think, are some Intelligent Transportation Systems (traffic signal upgrades) and some overlays on some roadways which we still have to determine which ones, and some sidewalks. These projects were all touted as being able to fairly quickly and cheaply come up to federal standards.

But readerboards? Eagle Rd was just upgraded with new traffic signal systems and computer linkages to make the traffic flow more smoothly - and now Eagle Road actually flows, at least in mid afternoon. But I don't see any readerboards there and I can't imagine why we would spend money on these things.

I can make the case for upgraded traffic signals being a stimulus to the local economy as well as the construction projects (overlays and sidewalks), but reader boards? Not so much.

UPDATE: The reader board is gone from ACHD's stimulus list.


At February 26, 2009 at 7:44 AM , Blogger MNMAC said...

Reader boards are a vital communication tool for people heading for I-84. If an accident has blocked traffic either direction, the reader board will direct traffic away from I-84. This is a good public service-no one likes sitting on the interstate. The suggested reader board locations make sense-at all entrances to I-84. The reader boards will decrease emissions from cars waiting for the accident to go away by directing them to other arterials. It will enhance the public's ability to get to their destination faster by not being stuck on I-84 without knowing about the accident. I believe people would be willing to accept the cost of these boards given the benefit of directing traffic away from hazards, accidents, etc. It's a good thing!!!

At February 26, 2009 at 2:28 PM , Blogger Eric said...

If we need reader boards to inform folks of conditions on I-84(which I doubt) then ITD should pony up the money. The disturbing thing is that apparently the Commissioners were not properly briefed.


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