The Stanley Cup looks happiest when it’s raised.
Of course, a lot of the joy is lost when the NHL trophy is pranced around to make a political point. Shortly after the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane whipped a one-timer past Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop for a 2-0 Chicago lead late in the third period in what turned out to be a deciding game six in the Stanley Cup Finals, play-by-play man Michael “Doc” Emrick started hinting at a potential tragedy. The Cup was not in the building. In fact, it was being rushed to the United Center by a police escort. Will it arrive in time? Man bites dog, coverage at 10!
About 12 hours later, an industry association was still holding this bit of fraudulent reporting up high. It released a statement, saying, “As key congressional committees examine solutions to restore certainty to the federal highway program, the holy grail of professional sports trophies, the Stanley Cup, was delayed by traffic from reaching the 2015 NHL champion Chicago Blackhawks; our inadequate roads and bridges have reached a new low.”
As an industry, I don’t think we should hesitate pointing to examples of how more funding for road and bridge construction could make this country a world champion when it comes to infrastructure. What I don’t appreciate, however, is the social media approach to reporting the news, which continues to concuss people one tweet at a time.
Allow me to hold up three fingers here: 1) The Stanley Cup had to endure a three-hour flight delay en route to Chicago; 2) by tradition, and superstition, the Cup does not enter the stadium until the team that is on the cusp of the magical fourth victory has the game in the bag (in this case it did not happen until there was four minutes left in the contest); and 3) if the trophy did get a police escort then traffic congestion was not an issue, right?
When I responded to the association about the press release and told them the first point mentioned above, the response I received was: “I don’t necessarily think the matter warrants a serious inquiry to determine root cause; we’ve repeatedly highlighted the cost of lost time in traffic as a problem caused by under-resourcing the federal highway program. An iconic trophy sitting in gridlock is a metaphor for the overarching policy problem.”
Yes, but again-—it was never caught in traffic, and the attempt to spin this the wrong way is not putting anyone’s best foot forward.
Where congestion is getting the best of cities can be seen in Pittsburgh. There officials have been tangled in a face-off with what is known locally as the Golden Triangle. The intersection of Liberty Avenue, Stanwix Street, Forbes Avenue and Penn Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh is the site of a losing battle just about every day. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists fill it to capacity, and all the jeering forced a two-day brainstorming session in an attempt to come up with a solution. What was drafted was a concept, informally titled “Heart of Pittsburgh,” that removes traffic signals, signage, crosswalks, lane markings and curbs. Everyone entering this area essentially must become teammates and work in harmony to accomplish the ultimate goal—get from point A to point B as soon and as safe as possible. Traffic will still have to stop for pedestrians crossing the street so how does this eliminate the traffic-light effect, which is the main bug in the current system? This free-for-all approach sounds more like chaos for all. Can we just build a bike/pedestrian bridge? Wouldn’t that be the happiest raise? R&B
Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.