ROADS REPORT

05/13/01

Article May 13, 2001
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The key to a good robbery


The key to a good robbery


There?s always so many things to remember when knocking off a gas station: a good weapon, where the car is parked, maybe where the keys are. Unfortunately an Albuquerque, N.M., man only got one of those right.


Police say Jeff Anaya, 35, walked into a Chevron station last month and managed to hold the clerk up with a screwdriver. He then allegedly demanded cash, cigarettes and some lighters before taking off.


Besides having to commit a crime to get a lighter, so far so good. Except that when Anaya got back to his car, he realized he didn?t have his keys. So he went back in the store.


Even though the clerk was on the phone with a 911 operator at the time, Anaya began diligently searching for the keys. Officers arrived before he could find them and the man immediately gave himself up.




Bus drivers have to stay sober


If you?re ever in Chicago, you?ll find that the public transportation is a convenient way to get around town. And soon, if pending legislation passes, it?ll be a safe way, too.


The proposed legislation from the Chicago Transit Authority would help keep drivers with drunk driving or traffic offenses from behind the wheel of city buses.


The CTA, which has helped bus drivers return to the wheel even after their licenses were lost due to driving offenses, proposed the legislation after details came out last year about the practice.


The legislation would prevent public transit employees from getting a "judicial driving permit" which allows drivers to get to and from a job after their license has been revoked or suspended. While not technically fitting under the narrow definition of "driving," what CTA bus drivers do has been determined to be close enough to driving to cause a conflict of interest.




On the edge


After years of debate, the Bloor Viaduct in Toronto has finally been approved for a very special Christmas gift: its own suicide barrier.


It seems the viaduct has seen the last moments of 300-some people in the past century. Now a $5.5 million Luminous Veil suicide barrier will be constructed to prevent more folks from taking the plunge.


Some oppose the plan, though, as more than half the money for the barrier would come from the erection of promotional signs which protesters argue would take away from the local scenery.




Home away from home


Well, the verdict is in. According to two nationwide surveys by an insurance company, men should not be allowed to drive.


The first survey found that men do indeed earn their higher insurance rates by being more aggressive drivers.


The second found that men also are more prone to distracting behavior behind the wheel. Reading, chatting on the phone, flirting with other drivers, scratching themselves?men basically make the car their portable den.


Women are far from saints themselves, though. Females were found to spend more than a healthy amount of time combing their hair, arguing with a passenger or breaking up fights between children in the back seat.


And, not surprisingly, 18 times more women than men apply makeup while driving. (Yes, 1% of men admitted to applying makeup in the car.)




Heavy duty


More than 250 college civil engineering students are currently competing in regional races in order to qualify for the opportunity to sail a concrete canoe.


But this is no mafia pledge exercise. All rivers lead to the 14th annual ASCE/MBT National Concrete Canoe Competition this June at San Diego State University.


Teams of students design, build and race concrete canoes for a chance to win $9,000 in scholarship prizes.


The goal of the competition is to give students hands-on experience with engineering principles. The canoes are constructed with concrete and reinforcing materials, but not traditional concrete. Instead students use lightweight aggregates like glass beads or microballoons, chemical admixtures, graphite and carbon fiber mesh.




Big trouble in little Mexico


Customs agents at a checkpoint in Matamoros, Mexico, were apparently so busy looking for smuggled drugs recently, they missed an endangered 3-ton elephant crossing the border.


It seems the owner of a Mexico City circus purchased the Asian elephant from a Houston trainer and applied for all the necessary permits from the U.S. and Mexico. But after a couple months he grew impatient.


According to the Mexican newspaper Reforma, he then decided to pay a "coyote" $4,500 to smuggle the elephant across the border in a five-wheel trailer. Benny the Elephant, whose name was later changed to Dumbo to protect his identity, was waved through the checkpoint with no questions.


Months later, Benny was busted working in the Mexico City circus. The purchaser of the elephant told Reforma that Mexican Customs agents were paid to overlook the behemoth.




Elk X-ing


There?s enough to enjoy driving on U.S. 101 through Washington State?s Sequim Valley without having an elk stuck in your grille.


That?s why Washington biologist Shelly Ament came up with a radio-transmitter collar for the local elk to wear. When a collared elk gets within a quarter mile of the highway, the collar signals a yellow motorist light to begin flashing, alerting motorists of the elk?s proximity.


Ament came up with the idea after hearing that 15 of the 100-member herd had been killed in collisions with cars since 1994.


If successful, both elk and driver could be in for, like, a totally elkcellent summer.


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