June 21 - 28, 2006
Column By MIKE MCGARRY, The Hartford News Staff Writer
…Just test it
My hero, President Ronald Reagan, once said “trust, but verify.” He was specifically talking about atomic bombs but his genius transcends to just about anything in business or government. Yes, “Trust, but verify,” especially when life and limb are concerned.
The latest proposal needing testing is the newest plan for Farmington Avenue. They call it "traffic calming". Just like Capitol Avenue or Franklin Avenue, but with pretty sidewalks. Some say traffic calming equals traffic congestion, but, as said above, we “trust,” and expect verification.
It is one thing to tie up Franklin Avenue every afternoon when the school buses stop and start, and another thing to see long lines of traffic on Capitol Avenue with drivers cursing the unused bike lanes - but, Farmington Avenue is certainly a horse of a different color.
Farmington Avenue feeds a hospital, is a thoroughfare for buses, trucks, police cars and fire engines. Once you are stuck between Sisson and Woodland you are stuck, no retreat. Once you are lined up to Prospect you will find an alternative - Oxford street, get ready for the sirens.
This writer has put the backers of this plan on notice about access for emergency vehicles: without a proper test they will all be held legally responsible if emergency vehicles cannot push through traffic because of “cute” dress-up plans. A long hard look should be taken at such an extensive, expensive plan. If a fair test is taken, under all conditions, this column will be supportive, if traffic flows smoothly. A few cones and some police tape could really tell the story.
The real concern of many is what happens in a real emergency. The Governor, seeing a big storm on the way, orders workers out early, or a truck breaks down on I-84, or ice coats the upgrade to Asylum Hill, or we have a fender bender at the corner of Farmington and Laurel or … would you like to be on the way to St. Francis with only three jammed lanes available?
The plan is much better than the one ten years ago with round-a-bouts and bike lanes and maybe it might work - all this column is asking for is “Trust, but Verify” before we spend millions and possibly endanger lives.