Dec. 28, 2000
How low will they go?
How low will they go? The glut of crude oil continues to keep the retail price of gasoline at record low levels. The average cost of all grades of gasoline across the region has not been cheaper since December 1986. Currently, motorists are paying anywhere from five to 20 cents less for fuel than they were at this time last year.

In Chicago and Cook County, Ill., for instance, a gallon of self-serve unleaded regular at press time averaged $1.085. This price is down 0.8 cents from last month and is currently 6.4 cents lower than the 1998 price. The average cost of this grade of gasoline stands at its lowest level since March 1989, when it averaged $0.982 per gal. Self-serve unleaded regular in Illinois outside of Cook County now averages $0.96 per gal, down 0.6 cents from February and 9.7 cents lower compared to last year at this time. Not since March of 1989, when the price dipped to $0.895, has the price been lower.

In northern Indiana, a gallon of self-serve unleaded regular averages $0.844, down 2.1 cents from February and 13.7 cents lower than last year’s price. The last time prices were as low occurred in February 1988, when the price averaged $0.84 per gal.

Highway-rail collisions on the decline
A report recently released by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) indicated a decline in the number of highway-rail collisions during the first nine months of 1998, representing a 9.8%decrease in the number reported during the same time frame in 1997. Additionally, the number of related injuries also decreased by 16.88during the same reporting period. According to the FRA report, the number of highway-rail collisions has declined each year for the last three years.

“Any collision is one too many, but we are heartened that our safety record has improved consistently in recent years,” said Operation Lifesaver Inc.’s president Gerri Hall. “Our challenge is to help change the American mindset to always expect a train.”

Century worth of technology
Seat belts and air bags, water pollution controls, MRIs, TV and computers were chosen as the most significant engineering developments of the 20th century, according to a survey of American engineers released recently by the National Engineers Week Committee.

The committee asked engineers from several fields to name one or two outstanding achievements or events of the past 100 years in five categories: the environment, education, health care, public safety and leisure time activities.

Not surprisingly, computers were most often named as the No. 1 development in the area of education, followed closely by the creation and expansion of the Internet. Computers and computer-assisted technology also figured prominently in each of the other categories. In the area of public safety many engineers named severe weather modeling, radar speed detection, smart roads and other computer-related developments as the most significant achievements of the century.

In the category of public safety, seat belts and air bags were tied as the No. 1 public safety achievement of the 20th century, with anti-lock braking systems, safety glass, the creation of crumple zones and crash and stress analyses also listed. Several highway-related developments, such as the construction of the Interstate Highway System, the 55 mph speed limit, smart roads, traffic control systems and improved bridge design were named as well.

Kids learn to Build Up! America
Students at schools across the nation will begin learning about the many diverse career opportunities offered by the construction industry. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), in collaboration with Scholastic Inc., unveiled the fifth grade construction education kit, Build Up!, late last year in Charlotte, N.C. The materials contained in the kit integrate well with existing math and science curricula and will be structured to teach children about the construction industry.

AGC is launching this campaign with the cooperation of its chapters across the country. The cost of one tool kit is $185, but will be provided free of charge to teachers through chapter sponsorship and member donations.

Judge takes law into his own hands
William Bristol, a judge in Monroe County, N.Y., said he was doing his civic duty when he followed Johanna Goosey home following a conflict on the road. The dispute began when Bristol was driving behind 20-year-old Goosey. She started to make a left turn but stopped, thinking she might be heading the wrong way down a one-way street. Her car was blocking traffic, and Bristol said when he honked his horn Goosey shouted, cursed and made an obscene hand gesture. She denied gesturing or cursing, and said that he followed her for 10 minutes and when she stopped at a traffic light, he began beating on her windshield. He contended that he tapped on her windshield and when she started screaming at him, he called police from his cellular phone. He followed her home, parked across the street and waited for police. Because police did not witness the event, they said they couldn’t file a reckless driving report as Bristol requested.

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