Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A heartbreaking work of staggering whatever ,,,

WAPA never sleeps. The federal Western Area Power Administration sells and delivers hydroelectric power from places like Hoover Dam to customers in a 15-state region of the central and western United States.

With so much on its plate, it’s easy to understand how WAPA could overlook a tiny thing like the placement of one of its power poles.

Now, when I say “power pole,” I mean “giant humongous hulking transmission tower that’s about sixty feet tall like the mast of a battleship, mounted on a concrete base that’s about six feet wide and buried thirty-five feet in the ground.”

A serious power pole, in other words.

My neighbors and I watched in dismay as these transmission towers went in last year, during a street-widening project in northwest Tucson. Then our dismay turned to amazement, when one of the towers ended up nearly out in the street itself, intersecting the sidewalk.

It was clear that something was wrong. Either the tower was in the wrong place, or the road was. Rumors flew. The county and the feds were battling it out in court, one rumor went. Then the word was that the county had won the lawsuit. The tower had to go.

Only problem was, nothing happened. Finally, I got tired of waiting and sent an e-mail to the reporter who covers traffic issues for our daily paper, the Arizona Daily Star, asking her to find out what was going on.

The answer, from Priscilla Cornelio, Pima County transportation director, ran in Monday’s “Roadrunner” column of the Star. If nothing else, it fairly clearly demonstrates why some people are losing faith in the ability of government at all levels to do much of anything.

According to Ms. Cornelio, the county “will be performing minor revisions to the curb, sidewalk and traffic striping in order to install a concrete barrier as well as to provide additional separation between the travel lanes and the pole to protect motorists.”

Cornelio added that the county has been working closely with WAPA on the project and “there are no lawsuits or any other legal actions pending.”

Well, maybe not yet. But the concrete barrier that the county envisions will have to jut out into the street and into the flow of traffic. If only because of Murphy's Law, someone eventually will crash into that concrete wall, despite the traffic striping. I’m not a lawyer, but I predict there’ll be plenty of lawsuits flying then.

Your tax dollars at work.


Rynski said...

too funny, tom!
it also reminds me of a traffic situation on an interstate in michigan. crews apparently built an overpass bridge too low - so the solution, instead of making the bridge higher, was to make the street lower.

don't ask!
keep up the fun writing - ryn.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing article. Amazing in its presentation and amazing in its content. And, yes, when the fenders and steering wheels finally stop flying and settle into the dust there will doubtless be many lawsuits.