ROADS REPORT

October 2000

Article December 28, 2000
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Talk about waiting till the last minute


Talk about waiting till the last minute


While Tore and Hanne Sandberg were getting married last month, the groom’s construction buddies were at the couple’s house with some backhoes.


But it wasn’t the tail-end of an all-night bachelor party; Tore’s friends were building the newlyweds a road.


The Sandbergs bought their house 19 months ago but could never afford to improve the treacherous dirt path leading from their home to the highway. Now, the 200-ft path has been graded, graveled and properly drained.


"On the gift table there were two pictures of men at work and construction machines in front of our house," the bride said. "At first I didn’t understand, but then the tears came when I realized that we got a new road."


The couple christened their road Bridal Way.




All eyes on the red light district


If you’re an observer of the three-car rule when it comes to driving through a red light, your chances of causing an accident or, worse yet, getting ticketed are increasing.


Police in many states are cracking down on red light crashers by assigning troopers for several hours at a time to intersections with high crash volumes while others are increasing the use of automatic cameras.


For states that can afford the $70,000 equipment, cameras can be set up to photograph any driver or license plate that enters an intersection after the red light appears.


Many find the idea of government cameras to be an intrusion of privacy, though, and such a system is currently illegal in Ohio.




Ya’all come bah now, ya hear?


Pamplona may have the running of the bulls, but here in the States, Reed Point, Mont.’s annual sheep run is becoming all the rage.


Beginning in 1989 as a spoof on the Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive, several thousand people show up each year, some from thousands of miles away, to the tiny town of 100 for a parade, carnival games and food (including roasted lamb).


For the main event, hundreds of sheep are herded down the city’s main street while onlookers cheer from nearby sidewalks. Money from the event has been used to repair the roof on the fire hall, build an additon to the library and, get this, purchase a limousine ride for an area high school basketball team after a good season.




Time for some change


Some Illinois Highway Authority workers may find coal in their stockings this Christmas.


Last December, about 10 people dressed as elves visited the York Tollway Plaza on I-88 in Oak Brook, Ill., to pay motorists’ tolls as part of a Marshall Field’s holiday promotion. To get to the tollbooths, Santa’s adult-sized helpers were led through a high-security underground tunnel where they said they saw coins spilled from receptacles laying everywhere. One elf estimated she saw at least $200 in change scattered throughout the well-lit tunnel.


Toll officials found the elf’s estimate a little high. They claim $30 to $40 in coins spill in a typical month, and any loose change in the tunnels is always gathered up by hand on a weekly basis.


Still, that didn’t stop critics from further blasting tollway authorities. Rep. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston) told the Chicago Sun-Times, "If you have to choose between who is more credible, the tollway or a bunch of people dressed as elves, I’ll go with the elves anytime."




Once you pop, you can’t stop


While her mother prayed out loud behind the wheel, Allison Reamer spent an anxious morning recently jumping from the front seat of her car to the back, screaming in pain. The problem was that she was in labor, it was rush hour and she was stuck in Atlanta gridlock.


Heavy traffic in Atlanta has already been cited for creating excessive smog and the longest average commutes in the U.S. (Due to the expansive suburbs, the average commute to and from the city is 34 miles a day).


Now it’s being touted by ambulance drivers, police and doctors as causing more in-transit births than in any other city in the country.


Reamer went into labor at 7 a.m. and had to travel 20 miles south to a hospital in the city. After traveling only four miles in 45 minutes, her mother called 911 and an ambulance met their car on the shoulder of the highway.


Once Reamer was strapped in, the ambulance sped down the median and got her to the hospital just in time to deliver a healthy baby boy. But after the experience, Reamer said she no longer wants to have a third baby.




Lights! Annoying bullhorn! Action!


A prosperous Manhattan block is about to get a fancy new outdoor anti-crime system complete with strobe lights and loudspeakers. And most likely more vacancies.


Once the new system is set up, residents of the 77th Street block will be able to press a panic button on a keychain if they are attacked on the street. From the top of a nearby building, a loudspeaker will then announce, "Intruder on the block! Call the police!" At the same time, a police siren will go off and a series of strobe lights will flash.


The system also will notify police of the address and name of the victim. Neighbors will be instructed to go to their window when they hear the alarms and observe how the attacker is dressed and to call 911. Right.


Some residents are worried that trigger-happy neighbors may be more of a problem than actual criminals, particularly in a low-crime area such as this. Others think that accidental activation of the system could rival the annoyance of car alarms.


The plan is to offer the 77th Street residents the system without charge and then market it citywide after a testing period. That’s the plan anyway.


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