Thursday, January 20, 2011

20 JAN 11: Lindsey Creek International Raceway

"No, no. The light's red," I said out loud at a downtown Columbus intersection Wednesday night. But the bicyclist to my right didn't seem to care. He turned left from Broadway onto Ninth Street. The fact that he was bicycling south in the northbound lane of Broadway should have tipped me off to that.

Lots of Columbus travelers seem to be in a constant hurry - whether on a bike or something bigger. And I was surprised to learn Wednesday it's now being tolerated more in Columbus. The speed limit across most of the city on Interstate 185 has jumped from 55 to 65 miles per hour. And amazingly, it's NOT because Jim Wetherington is no longer mayor....

The Ledger-Enquirer reported the Georgia Department of Transportation made the decision to increase the speed limit on I-185. A GDOT spokesperson says the limit should have been 65 all along. Hmmmm - do you think it was another one of Governor Sonny Perdue's plots to keep Columbus from progressing?

In fact, GDOT apparently is increasing the speed limits on interstate highways in cities across Georgia. This puzzles me for several reasons. For one thing, it could become tougher than ever to be a "Super-Speeder" with those increased fines.

The speed limit on J.R. Allen Parkway has been 65 miles per hour for years. I've wondered at times how a city the size of Columbus could have that, because I thought 55 was the federal limit inside metropolitan areas. I guessed the difference was because the parkway is U.S. 80, NOT an interstate - and that it stemmed from the days when no one thought of exiting at Bradley Park Drive to shop.

But an online search indicated states can set up their own speed limits for interstates in urban areas. The slowest is 50 miles per hour in Hawaii - where the idea of an "interstate highway" is even more absurd than putting that title on I-185.

One source I checked shows Georgia's speed limit for urban interstates has been 65 miles per hour since 1996. So why did the state transportation department forget that for 15 years? After all, many Columbus drivers apparently forgot it - albeit in the other direction....

Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren says he wanted the speed limit on I-185 to drop to 55 miles per hour at Airport Thruway. But GDOT is allowing traffic to go 65 miles per hour all the way south to St. Mary's Road. Beyond that is Victory Drive and the Fort Benning gate - and soldiers have to start thinking about obedience at some point.

(I've related in the past how drivers heading toward Fort Benning on I-185 during the 5:00 a.m. hour traveled much faster than 55 miles per hour. It's as if soldiers in training are making up for driving slow-moving tanks all day.)

I don't drive on Interstate 185 very often. But the higher speed limit will allow more freedom for me -- because I'm admittedly a weirdo behind the wheel. Yes, I actually think the speed limit signs are supposed to be obeyed.

The higher speed limit still could be a challenge for my humble Honda. It's up in years, and takes a little time to move up in the gearbox to speeds such as 65. You know it's an old car when you say on uphill grades, "I think I can, I think I can...."

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION thinks about the police chief, and relates to one of Wednesday's news items. Which husband and wife do you consider the top "power couple" of Columbus? Six candidates came to my mind. And if someone writes in State Senator Josh McKoon's name, I want the scoop on whom his girlfriend is.

-> Our other blog has Martin Luther King Day in mind (among other things). Read why at "On the Flop!" <-

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: Two men are talking at church about their gardens, and how they recently killed deer which wandered onto their property. A third man hears it all.

"Well, I didn't kill anything this past week."

One of the gardeners disagrees. "You killed a lot of time, didn't you?"

Please spend a few more seconds considering other Wednesday news....

+ Your blog confirmed the Columbus Career Center has reduced its hours. It's now open eight-and-a-half hours per day, instead of nine-and-a-half. If the local unemployment rate drops to 7.5 percent, another hour could be dropped.

+ Aflac Chief Executive Officer Dan Amos told WTVM his insurance company is 50 percent larger than Allstate in "market capitalization," and three times bigger than Delta Air Lines. Isn't this amazing? Columbus has a "duck" that's bigger than a jet plane.

(Bigger in market capitalization? I thought Aflac changed its name away from five capital letters....)

+ Ticket sales began for this year's St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. Teresa Tomlinson actually did buy a ticket, after country singer Randy Owen did - but WTVM's 5:00 p.m. news showed her title as Governor, not Mayor. Isn't it a little early to start political rumors for 2014?

+ Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter announced Troy University will play its spring football game at Garrett-Harrison Stadium in mid-March. If Troy can pay the stadium rent, surely the Phenix City School Board can do it....

(Troy's "Sound of the South" marching band even is coming to Phenix City, to take part in a parade. And who knows -- perhaps the tubas will be used to break ground on Troy's promised downtown Phenix City campus.)

+ The Georgia Historical Society marked the 150th anniversary of the state's secession from the union, by unveiling a marker in Milledgeville. The society kept this event so quiet that Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose was in Columbus trying to help Carlton Gary.

+ Alabama Governor Robert Bentley apologized for stating Monday his only "brothers and sisters" are people who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Bentley told reporters he'll work for Alabamians of all faiths. Somewhere east of Birmingham, former Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote Bentley off as a spineless coward.

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) found Georgia Tech's men wiping up Wake Forest 74-39. The Yellowjackets are now 9-8, and may be turning around their season. Wake Forest is so bad that it seems half the team actually came FROM a forest.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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