COMMENTARY: Maybe it’s me, but it doesn’t seem that the citizens control our elected folks. There is talk about listening to the citizens, but I see a different picture.
Those we elect and hire often make more money than us, drive better cars, have better offices and a great retirement system. Our “servants” have a retirement system while most citizens do not.
Who are the giving units providing benefits and who are the rulers commanding obedience? Did you think they are our servants? Silly to think that. We’re the burros putting the money into their coffers and they are the monarchs who rule us.
Many, not all of them, can barely contain their contempt of citizens. And they are quick to offense when one of their subjects questions them.
Over the last two decades I have been laughed at for wanting the main roads in my city to have their traffic lights timed. One elected representative asked if I needed my food cut up also. Another said timing the traffic lights was impossible.
We sent men to the Moon. Timing the main arterial road lights would be a snap. They don’t want to because it isn’t their idea and they hate pushy citizens.
I was thinking about drivers like myself who drive a block, get a red light, drive a block, get another red light, etc. It is a waste of resources to stop, get going and then stop repeatedly.
What made me think of this is that the New Mexico Department of Transportation has been replacing a freeway bridge in Las Cruces over Missouri Avenue. The job has taken a year. Recently it was announced that work done to improve the safety of the nearby streets would be torn out by the city because the city did not agree that the state should construct safer intersections.
We taxpayers paid to put the safety barriers in and we will pay to take them out and have less-safe intersections. The state put in concrete curbs in the turn lanes of some intersections to prevent vehicles from going into the opposite lane, thereby causing an accident. The City of Las Cruces apparently wants vehicles to be able to strike other vehicles unimpeded.
My uncle, Ralph Smith, was for years the safety manager for the New Mexico Highway Department for District Two headquartered in Roswell. I grew up spending summers with him, so I had a front row seat on someone who liked to talk highway safety.
From that background I could see that the concrete curb barriers were put in place to protect drivers. So let’s connect the dots: I want timed lights because that is safest. Accidents happen when vehicles change speed. It is also a question of efficiency and not angering drivers. Get them all going the same speed.
Likewise, over the years I have protested in several columns putting anything in the divided street medians because the medians are an emergency runoff area for when crap happens in the driving lanes. Imagine if you dart onto the median to avoid an errant car and, BAM, you run into a tree that is pretty, but it kills you.
The city likes the beauty of the medians and ignores the dangers if a motorcyclist was to wrap themselves around one of those median trees. A death here and a death there, I guess they don’t care.
One more thing: it is foolish to make citizens mad while they drive unnecessarily. Because I live near the bridge project I noticed the traffic at the bridge intersection is typically backed up for blocks and blocks because there are single lanes and gridlock in the intersections.
At times going east on Missouri under the freeway the gridlock is so profound that sometimes during two or three lights no one going east gets through because it is clogged by north and south traffic turning east.
Recently it took around 30 minutes to get through the intersection, and people were driving over curbs close to road rage. Is it unfortunate or is it no one in the city thinks they are our servants? The response from the city predictably will be: How dare I criticize them? Indeed.
Michael Swickard is a former radio talk show host and has been a columnist for 30 years in a number of New Mexico newspapers. Swickard’s new novel, Hideaway Hills, is now available at Amazon.com.