Monday, August 17, 2009

Worthy Cause

Everybody should have a worthy cause to promote. Tom Leher announced his at one of his concerts as being "Obscenity" (polite smattering of applause). "I'm FOR it." he continued (Huge round of applause), and proceeded to perform his promotional song "Smut!"

Worthy though it is, I've decided to tilt at a local windmill, in the form of the HOV lane designation on Sante Fe Blvd, from Littleton to I-25 in Denver. I'm against it.

Originally, Sante Fe was 4 lanes, no divider, lots of truck traffic, and many stoplights. A popular route from an industrial area to all points south, it had gotten to the point that it barely moved fast enough to provide multiple daily accidents. The local confab of municipal governments, DRGOG, noted its notoriety, and applied to get some of out tax money back from Washington to widen and improve the road. Which they did, widening the corridor to six lanes, and eliminating several connecting intersections, but at the cost of being required to designate one of the three lanes HOV at times of peak demand.

Right. When we need 3 lanes the most, we have to cur back to 2, just like before, to help subsidize the buses and the handful of carpoolers using the roadway. Well, OK, but shortly after this was imposed, the bus company branched out into trolleys, and ran their flagship line, you guessed it, along Sante Fe, and to encourage usage, essentially halted all bus service on that route.

The last time I had to use Sante Fe, it was winter, so I had to drive my pickup, and the government had assigned nobody from my neighborhood to work near my employer, so no carpooler. While parked in the #2 lane, waiting for the next light to change for the third time, I had time to count the cars, both in the HOV lane, and in the #2 and 3 lanes, reserved for the transportationally handicapped. It appears, that absent bus traffic, the HOV lane serves about 4% of the traffic during peak demand. This means that the road is reverted to the same state it was in before we got to spent some $23 million / lane mile on the improvements.

I am back commuting on Sante Fe, this time on my motorcycle, and I can report that the HOV lane, which I am permitted to use by virtue of being on a 2-wheeler, is empty enough to allow speeds (ahem) noticeably above the posted limit. This alongside a crowd of PO'd solo motorists, some of whom vent their frustrations by merging into the HOV lane.

I haven't seen them yet, but I expect to eventually. The city of Englewood has, in the past, enforced the HOV lane to the point that 4 cops standing at one of the traffic lights, can write $40 tickets as fast as writers cramp permits, which, to my estimation while parked in the #2 lane like a good boy, is about $2000/hour. This effort has been successful enough to traumatize the rest of the population into staying out of the #1 (HOV) lane, even when they would otherwise be allowed to use it. This, of course, increases the maintenance required on the other 2 lanes by about 50%, your tax bux at work.

So far the alphabet soup collection of agencies that I have contacted seem to favor eliminating the HOV designation. I am now contacting individual politicians from the bergs along the road, where I expect to find more resistance, at least initially. We'll see.

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