This is not a typical blog. My posts will be edited and maintained.

Please note that these posts concern all levels of government, not just federal.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Roads should have lines

Along similar thoughts as sidewalks, all roads of moderate traffic should have divider lines.

Locally, we have roads like the Fairview Street/Massachusetts Avenue route between Mary St and King Mill Pike and the Norfolk Avenue/New Hampshire Avenue route between different parts of the same areas. These roads that are considered two-lane, but have no middle lines despite carrying moderate traffic. Without a middle line, vehicles in each lane tend to drive way into the other lane and passing at posted speeds is risky; vehicles are forced to slow to a crawl in order to avoid an accident.

This situation is heightened by cars parked along both sides of the roads. While the road should be wide enough to accommodate the four vehicles, a lack of marked lanes leaves traffic unsafe unless extreme care is taken by the drivers. Simply marking both parking and driving lanes should resolve the problem. But, if studies determine the road needs to be widened, then it needs to be widened. This road, unlike the ones I referenced in a previous post, has sidewalks. And even though such is not necessary, these sidewalks have sizable buffers between themselves and the road, buffers that could be reclaimed for use in widening the road. Residents would probably have no problem with this use, as it would create larger and safer parking lanes. But if road traffic exceeds original designs and needs to be widened at the expense of purchasing frontage from the residents, that is what must be done.

Widening some roads and increasing their safe traffic loads should reduce traffic on other roads; for instance, widening Fairview may reduce traffic on Norfolk so that simple marking will be sufficient. While Norfolk does not seem intended to carry much load, the path it follows between Mary St and King Mill Pike make it an ideal route from the heavily-traveled Virginia Avenue on the Tennessee side to get to the shopping and restaurant areas at Exit 5 and 7 on I-81.

I'm afraid many of our local elected officials may not go in these areas often. I drive a church van route, and this route covers these areas. In some cases, modest improvements may significantly increase safety.

Roads should have sidewalks

All roads with moderate traffic, that is, anything bigger than small subdivision roads, should have sidewalks on at least one side.

Sidewalks on major roads (five lanes) do little good if people can't get to them. Locally, we have a road (Old Abingdon Highway) that is a two-lane windy road that goes between a major residential area and a shopping area. As it is now, the entire road is only 1.2 miles long, so it would be easy for local residents to walk or bike to stores rather than driving. My personal drive is about 2.5 miles, since I live up into the subdivision. But the road is windy with poor visibility in areas, has areas with no shoulders, and it passes under a narrow one-lane railroad bridge (recently modified with "Yield" lines and signs on each side, where it previously just had "Narrow Bridge" signs and lost the middle line), so walking would be dangerous at best. However, depending on property ownership (since the most dangerous areas are undeveloped, but may already be owned by the city, the railroad, or a plant that is nearby), most of this area could easily have sidewalks added. Even the railroad bridge crosses a creek nearby, and the sidewalk could route through that opening rather than needing to modify the bridge.

Other areas, like Virginia Avenue on the Tennessee side of town, had sidewalks in the past, but they have not been maintained and many have long since been lawned-over. And I can't blame the residents - an extra five feet of lawn looks better than a decrepit used-to-be sidewalk lumps of concrete. These should have been maintained, as maintenance costs less than replacement, but now that they are non-functional, they need to be brought back into service.

Many politicians talk about the need to reduce our carbon footprint, but they overlook simple steps like these that would not only reduce the need for vehicle travel but would also be beneficial to the residents.

Bike lanes would be nice, but not necessary; bicyclists are permitted on sidewalks. Unfortunately, more focus is spent on bike paths in parks and scenic areas where the leisure-minded can use them rather than in areas where they would be useful to everyday people.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Legislators should be subject to their own laws

Those who enact laws or regulations, be they local, state or federal, should always be subject to the laws and regulations they enact.

For instance, state legislators should be subject to taxes they impose, and federal legislators should be included in any healthcare reforms they implement.

This would seem logical, but legislators regularly opt themselves out of regulations they impose on everyone else.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Energy Independence and Economy

We need to "drill, baby, drill" for oil, develop shale oil production, build wind turbines, deploy solar panels and sea tide power generators, build safe nuclear and clean coal power generation facilities, and research new forms of power generation.

While environmental matters should be considered, we need to pursue energy independence in any manner such can be done economically, practically, and without undue harm to the local environment. This includes sea platform and underwater-based oil and gas drilling, petroleum drilling in ANWAR, and coal and shale mining. We need to research cold fusion, practical antimatter generation, and any other methods of power generation that can be developed and made practical.

Objections that a method may not have been practical, safe, or possible in an environmentally friendly manner twenty years ago should be discarded. Such limitations then do not equal such limitations now. Similarly, while animal populations and unique habitats (wetlands and such) in the local areas should be considered, they not exclude those areas from use; one goal does not preclude the other. Facilities creation and energy generation can be handled in a safe manner and local animal populations can be accommodated.