It could have been a scene from an old western, the town folk were up in arms over the underhanded dealings of the bureaucrats from the county seed(Caltrans Dist. 8). The city slickers with their engineers and their statistical data probably had a hard time finding Morongo Valley, but when they were greeted by what would appear to some as a lynch mob, they were surely relieved to have most of the local law enforcement present for their dog and pony show.
We were first addressed by Chief Public Information Officer at Cal Trans for Public and Legislative Affairs Terrie Cassinga. Commisara Cassinga informed the unwashed masses that this would be a ruly meeting and that our questions will not be ignored, but if we got unruly they would shut “their” meeting down. The Commisara made it abundantly clear that she and her council were doing us some tremendous favor by coming out to the hinterlands of Morongo Valley to listen to our grievances, since we are not smart enough to understand the inherent dangers associated with driving on Hwy 62, thus was the need for the Emergency Director’s Order Project to install temporary chanelizers in the center turn lane. First to speak about the Caltrans mission of “Safety of the Traveling Public” was Acting Deputy Director of Operations Jesus Galban, safety, being the utmost concern of the Deputy Director we were informed that over the next five years Caltrans will spend over $140 million on Hwy 62,”because we’re required.”
I’m so glad we have such smart people with these enormous titles in charge of all that money. Next to speak was the Deputy Director’s minion, Chief Operating Engineer Phisa YaYa(No kidding folks, that’s his name, I may have the spelling wrong, but I listened to it five times to make sure thats what I heard).
Chief YaYa gave a brief history of the proposed long term project to build a four inch curb/ramp in the center divider of Hwy 62 so that when a vehicle passes over the center divide it will then be launched airborne into the oncoming traffic, while at the same time not interfering with line of sight, isn’t safety great?
The one meme repeated by all was the dire need to “do something”(stupid) to reduce the number of head on collisions on the Hwy, and using data from 2009 and no more than three actual field evaluations by the Deputy and his Chief, where they got in a car and drove around out here, very scientific study you know, they decided the best, albeit not the cheapest, solution was the emergency temporary installation of the lane channelizes.
Now it was time to read and answer the questions from the local rubes. For this the Public Information Officer Anna Rodriguez was called to task, she had compiled and categorized the questions from the comment forms we were asked to fill out, consolidating similar questions and throwing out ones that might be too embarrassing to answer, like mine, on how much the project has cost to date? what the future costs to maintain and alter the barrier are projected to be? This is where things deteriorated quickly and the train jumped off the tracks, the question on the safety of u-turns on the Hwy was a concern of almost all. We were told by an engineer, with smug impunity, that statistical data has shown that u-turns on a Hwy, in traffic going in excess of 70 MPH, are safe, and if that is proven wrong that a sign could be placed and that would ensure our safety. Huh? It was also revealed that no recent analysis had been done on neighborhood populations to know which streets “feed” the Hwy. Traffic studies are now being done on the open streets, that were not seeing this level of traffic before the barriers went up, giving false data as to which streets people want to use. And then the coup de grace, Commisara Cassinga was on vacation when all this began, but she assured us that the director who is an engineer “is a very wise man” and “I’ve known him for 25 years,” so there it is, us dumb, redneck, hayseeds in dirt water Morongo Valley just don’t understand safety.
I used to think that .gov employees were a step above your average welfare cheat. I’m beginning to rethink that, I also think they are the reason why minimum wage shouldn’t be raised, I hope they aren’t paid any more than that.
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