My Way for the Highway

MoDoT: Tell me what you think about my plans.
Public: What plans?
MoDoT: I’ll tell you when I think you should know, but I want to get your opinions first.
Public: How can I have informed opinions until I know what your plans are?

The Missouri Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration are launching a study process for changes on I-70 from State Line to 470. In what appears to be a classic example of cynically controlling input while appearing to be transparent, they are hosting a “listening post” a “public” meeting – at the St. Paul School of Theology, Holter Center on Truman Road between 4 and 7 tomorrow evening.

Nowhere in the invitation, though, do they talk about what sort of changes they are considering, so if you, like most people, have things other than highways on your mind, you have no reason to attend the meeting. Then, when they do something colossally stupid to the highway, they will blame you for not attending the meeting and being heard.

This is not public input – it is insider control. If you control affected land, or plan to sell asphalt to the State, or are one of the insiders who has moved the plan to this stage, you know what is in it and you can make sure the meeting and comments go your way. If you’re an average citizen, you don’t know what is in it, so you won’t know whether your ox is getting gored until it’s buried in asphalt.

Frankly, I have better things to do on Tuesday night than watch the charade of public input. In my absence, I have a few thoughts I would like to share with the planners:

1. Do NOT change that view of the city through the overpass when you’re headed west between the stadiums and 435. If you mess with that, I will come at you like a spider monkey.

2. Do NOT smooth out the Van Brunt curve, or take away the flashing lights that congratulate drivers for going through it fast. It might be cool, though, if you could post a high score or a special light for the people that manage to double the recommended speed. Give us something more challenging to shoot for.

3. DO create an interchange between I-70 and 71, so that I can get to eastbound 70 from northbound 71 without cruising down Truman.

4. DO create “blinds” for motorcycle cops to run radar. It’s undignified the way they hide behind the pillars around the 435 interchange – just give them little shelters so they can stalk their prey in comfort, just like duck hunters do.

5. DO install wireless access along the length of the highway, so that commuters from the western suburbs can check their email on their laptops on their way to work. It’s a shame that right now they can only shave, put on make-up, read the paper and eat Egg McMuffins.

6. DO NOT fill in the potholes on the Manchester Trafficway overpass. That would destroy the tire and hubcap businesses in the vicinity.

7. DO NOT eliminate any of the “Exit Only” lanes – those are the best places to box in BMWs with Johnson County plates.

8. DO move the highway closer to the outfield of Royals Stadium, so that opposing batters can have something to aim for when our relief pitchers serve them hanging curves.

9. DO put up some kind of high-tech filter for the sun so that it doesn’t shine in our eyes when we’re headed east at sunrise or west at sunset. It’s a freaking nuisance.

10. DO NOT tell us how much you are going to be spending on all these changes, because that might make us think again about regional light rail, and, apparently, we’re just not ready for that kind of thinking.

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