Tuesday, February 16, 2010

16 FEB 10: Split Down the Middle

Am I the only one who's noticing more potholes than ever on Columbus streets these days? It's likely due to all the rain, combined with our unusually cold winter. But thankfully, city officials are NOT playing by NASCAR rules - else dozens of streets might be closed.

We're focusing on one well-traveled Columbus road today. A topic posted by Jeremy Hobbs at Intown Columbus over the weekend was passed on to us....

As you may or may not be aware, I sit on the MPO Transportation Citizens Advisory Committee. And at our past meeting we discussed the expansion on Talbotton Rd into a Four Lane with a center median.

There is a lot of information that must be considered, but due to overwhelming distaste amongst business owners on the road, which is a spectrum between doctors and Joe the Plumbers this would significantly impact their business by adding a center median. We are talking millions of dollars because of poor planning for today. Twenty years ago when this plan was put into action it seemed like a good idea. But today the area itself has changed and its needs have therefore changed as well.

We do not feel this is ideal. We believe that we can put a center lane (turning lane) in and not only save the city and state millions of dollars, but help ensure these businesses succeed. Currently as is for 2.1 miles of expansion, it will cost us $20 Million per mile. This includes land acquisition and right of way, plus construction. As you can see below the trends chart shows the overall traffic growth to the area does not warrant this type of massive and area damaging expansion.

I worked for Crown Petroleum years ago and when the city of Columbus put a center median on Manchester Expressway, because people couldn't turn in closer and had to go down to hospital to do a U turn, it literally cost that Crown over 100,000 gallons every month. We must be careful in what we do when planning our roads, because one mistake can cost a business its existence.

I am putting this letter out to hear your input? What do you think we should do with Talbotton Rd?

First of all, I'm a bit surprised by this topic. The man in charge of the "Better Way Foundation" seemingly does NOT think a trafficway is a better way.

I travel up and down Talbotton Road practically every weekend, when I drive to worship services. It extends from Veterans Parkway past the ruins of the Jordan Mill, and eventually becomes Warm Springs Road. Then it becomes Gentian Boulevard. Then it becomes Milgen Road. This street has more names than "South 106.1" FM.

The trend chart linked above indicates Talbotton Road handles about 12,000 vehicles per day. That computes to about nine cars and trucks every minute. So there ought to be sufficient time for drivers to make left turns -- even the older drivers who might drive in a center lane simply to keep clear of the curbs.

It's a bit surprising to me that traffic on the western section of Talbotton Road did NOT decline after the Three Arts Theatre went out of business and was bulldozed. Many of the people who attended Columbus Symphony concerts apparently still needed to drive down that road to get medical checks.

Talbotton Road indeed has plenty of medical offices on either side. The only big-name businesses are the Buck Ice headquarters and a Veri Best Donut stand. Who knows how many married couples have driven by that intersection, and quarreled about where to stop.

The biggest change along Talbotton Road in recent months is the development of the "Rails to Trails" path. Sad to say, it appears to have better pavement right now than sections of the road used by cars....

When Ashley Station was built to replace the Peabody Apartments, it seemed to be constructed with a wider Talbotton Road in mind. The apartment buildings are a good distance from the street. This not only allowed for greenspace and growth, but probably reduced the potential for drive-by shootings.

But center medians have become normal in many other area road projects. The latest Veterans Parkway "Streetscape" construction will add trees to the middle of the road through downtown -- and in the process require several restaurants to install taller signs, so drivers on both sides can find them.

I also think the quality of a business or service can overcome any median in the middle of the road. B. Merrill's was successful on Manchester Expressway for years, before opening a Northside restaurant. And shouldn't St. Francis Hospital be fighting to stay in business, instead of planning an expansion?

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION allows you to offer Jeremy Hobbs some input on this topic. Should Talbotton Road be widened to four lanes, and include a center median? Or would so many drivers make U-turns that Center Pharmacy would see an increase in requests for dizziness pills?

-> "Big Monday" means poker as well as Kansas basketball for us these days. Read why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Our Monday travel topic inspired a reader to share more stories - and we're assuming these are personal....

I took a group of high school girls to Europe..In the London airport one saw Elizabeth Taylor.Thinking I was standing beside her she grabbed what she thought was my hand and said,"There is Elizabeth Taylor,isn't she beautiful."..This deep male voice said,"I think she is also."..The hand belonged to Richard Burton...

Same trip coming back it was a rough flight..One of the girls,a senior said,"Next time I go to Europe I'm going on my car."..I wonder if she ever graduated..

Walking through the airport in D.C. with deaf students I said ,"We should go to the museum and see the dinasour." One kid reading my lips said,"Dinah Shore,where?"

A friend was driving at night headed for out west..In Arkansas in the early hours of the morning she pulled in a truck stop to go to the bathroom..She left sleeping in the back seat an older teen and a 5 yr old..She got back in the car and drove off..About 30 miles down the road she glances in the back seat and no 5 yr old..Panic sets in as she goes the 30 miles back to the stop..She rushes in the kid is behind the counter with the cashier..The cashier says ,"I knew you would be back."

The first remembrance reminds me of a classic "Carnack the Great" moment when Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show. The answer was "Richard Daley." Open the envelope and the question was, "What does Liz Taylor miss?"

We have one other message, which comes right from the middle of Columbus....


Did you happen to see the statements attributed to Dr. Mescon in Campus Life, CSU's school newspaper?

When commenting on why a group of 45 candidates for the Dean of College of Letters and Science were summarily dismissed, Dr. Mescon, according to Jon Ingram, stated they were all "older white males who looked like me and one older white woman" and that he felt that was unacceptable.

I guess he wants to be the only old, white person at CSU, no?

If I were Dean Stokes, I'd be headed down to the EEOC office and the Board of Regents with this article.



This message came with the 26 January article attached. But it also mentions the faculty of Columbus State University's College of Letters and Sciences wanted the search for a Dean to end -- and President Timothy Mescon rejected that, too. The man who once partnered with Newt Gingrich is practicing the "party of no" philosophy.

Dr. Timothy Mescon explained to the C.S.U. newspaper his goal is "academic excellence" -- even when it comes to selecting college Deans. But the issue for faculty is the concept of "Shared Governance" in university decisions. We all know how well that concept is working in Washington these days, don't we?

There seems to be a rift developing between the Columbus State President and the campus faculty. The campus newspaper currently has an article about a faculty survey, which found large numbers don't think Timothy Mescon seeks input from them on important changes. Well, Mescon's background IS in business - where stockholders are expected simply to rubber-stamp everything.

(By the way, the Columbus State University newspaper is called the Saber. "Campus Life" is merely one of the sections. I don't think the "Rear End" page was created as a slap at the current administration....)

Thanks to everyone who writes us - and now we'll write a little more about the Presidents' Day weekend:

+ Forecasts of a second phase in SNOWJAM 2010 turned out to be inaccurate, when only rain fell on Columbus Monday morning. The first round was easy - but this time, children had to freeze the rain themselves before having snowball fights.

+ Columbus Police reported a woman was arrested on Wade Street for selling alcohol without a license. Officers claim they found 700 cans of beer in a home, along with little cups. This woman clearly forgot one key element for this sort of business in Columbus -- the bridal gowns.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Columbus had a decline in several major crimes in 2009. This clearly reflects the dozens of added police officers on our streets. Why, I saw one Monday night in the parking lot of a Burger King - obviously ensuring customers didn't have it their way too much.

+ Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama held a town hall meeting in Phenix City. From what I saw on TV, there was no "Tea Party" outrage over Shelby's alleged love of pork-barrel spending. But then again, people in Phenix City are too busy pointing fingers at each other over spending on softballs.

+ Columbus Regional announced a first-of-its-kind cholesterol screening program. It will be offered through local doctors, not fire stations -- which I think means the Medical Center has decided NOT to support Councilor Jerry Barnes for re-election.

+ The evening news reported a Georgia House committee will debate a bill imposing 75-dollar fines if drivers are too slow in passing lanes. First they go after "super-speeders," and now it's super-sluggards....

+ Instant Message to Target: I'm sorry, you lose. When you only mark the Valentine's chocolate down 30 percent instead of 50, I'm moving on to a better store. Walgreens apparently is more desperate to clear the shelves to stock Easter baskets.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We'll be on an "alternate day" schedule for the most part, for the next week or so. Look for our next posts Thursday and Saturday.)

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