Friday’s Odds and Ends

In Texas the speed limit is going to be raised to 75mph on interstate highways. That means that all the drivers who currently go 80 to 90 in the 70mph zone will now feel free to bump that up by another ten. And this is good for us, how?

Here are some facts from a Highway Research Center  to consider:  A 2002 study by researchers at the Land Transport Safety Authority of New Zealand evaluated the effects of increasing rural interstate speed limits from 65 mph to either 70 or 75 mph. Based on deaths in states that did not change their speed limits, states that increased speed limits to 75 mph experienced 38 percent more deaths per million vehicle miles traveled than expected — an estimated 780 more deaths. States that increased speed limits to 70 mph experienced a 35 percent increase, resulting in approximately 1,100 more deaths.

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 nears, there is much talk about what is wrong with planned memorial events. It appears that first responders will not be invited to ceremonies at Ground Zero that day because there is not enough room for them. According to the NY governor and NYC mayor this is about the families of those lives lost that day and the focus should be on them. I’m curious. Are the families of the fallen firefighters and other first responders invited?

This is a very short-sighted decision, as was the one that pledged billions of federal dollars to build a memorial at the site of Ground Zero that includes 1World Trade Center at a price tag of $3.3 billion.

As NY Times columnist, Joe Nocera pointed out in a recent column, yes, the dead need to be remembered, but at what cost to the rest of a nation that was also traumatized by the horrific events of that September day 10 years ago? This new skyscraper at Ground Zero is the most expensive building ever erected and “will have 2.6 million square feet of office space in a city that doesn’t need it at a cost that is so high that it will be a cash drain for many years.”

And if that isn’t enough to make one stop and ask who is in charge of this nonsense, the new building will affect commuters who use the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency overseeing the building of the skyscraper, will raise tolls on the bridges and tunnels it controls, and by 2015 it could easily cost a commuter over $60 dollars a week to drive back and forth to work.

According to Nocera’s column, the publishing giant, Conda Nast, is going to be the anchor tenant in the new building and will benefit from substantial government subsidies. “And who will be paying for that subsidy? The mail room attendants who use the Lincoln Tunnel to get to work.”

On a slightly lighter note, there is talk of closing the tunnels in downtown Dallas.  Apparently this is someone’s idea of a way to revitalize downtown by making people visit stores above ground. Has that person walked a downtown street on a summer afternoon or a blustery day in January when the wind could blow you to the next corner? If people want to revitalize downtown, why not revitalize the tunnels so people can stroll and shop in comfort?

What are your thoughts on these topics, or any other news item that raised your blood pressure this week?

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6 thoughts on “Friday’s Odds and Ends”

  1. I think they should have more than one gathering or maybe an all day event for 9/11. Those who wish to attend should be allowed. This should not be so much a commercial event but an open event for all. How much of that new building is done? Any space they can possibly use for the event?

    My commute on the tolled route to work would be $42 weekly now, instead I take the slower non tolled route (I am betting most of those New York drivers will not have this choice though).

    As for Conde Nast, they have recently shut down numerous publications and should not be moving into a new place until they can make the rent without the subsidy assistance…

  2. Been so long since I went to Dallas, I didn’t even know there were underground tunnels where you could go shopping. There really needs to be something done about the crazy spending of public funds. We’re in a recession, people! And even if we weren’t, it’s still nuts.

  3. Helen, the tunnels have been there for a long time and apparently were quite popular for many years back in the 50s 60s and 70s, People could access all the major department stores from the tunnels, as well as having places like little indoor parks to go for lunch. Quite nice, but not well-publicized.

    Matt, you make some good points. I think the plans for the anniversary ceremony are awful. I did not realize that tolls were that high in Dallas. Like Carol, I’m glad I don’t live there.

  4. LOL, Helen. I am not a shopper, either. The only reason I knew about them is I was doing research for an article way back when and was told about the tunnels. I went to check them out and thought it was a great way to stroll downtown w/o being subject to the elements.

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