How quickly minds are changed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 28, 2004

When you are on your own 20-yard line with third and long it doesn’t take many cal- culations to decide to punt the ball away perhaps to fight another day. That’s how it appeared at a recent Council meeting after Mr. Nielsen and others, paid to study the matter carefully, decided that we really don’t need a Southeast Bypass around downtown Suffolk. The &uot;investigators&uot; were thorough and turned over every conceivable leaf hoping such a new stretch of highway could be accomplished. It was to be located from somewhere east of town on Hwy 58 to somewhere south of town on Carolina Road.

In the minds of many it would serve as the salvation of our Executive Airport, a quick and dirty bypass from ports on the east, and also keep some unwanted traffic out of downtown. It is understandable that downtown business owners weren’t exactly keen on diverting possible customers, shunting them speedily east or south instead of at least forcing them at least up to McDonalds. But then where would they park if they kept straight north through the many stoplights hoping to pick up a loaf of bread or a gift for a friend? Those who indeed wanted to do business of some kind would ignore the bypass if there were one. But there won’t be.

Too many obstacles stand in the path, some physical, others because different people have different thoughts about pouring concrete on top of anything and everything. The much-heralded Dismal Swamp is probably the number one hurdle. Those who hope to protect flora, fauna, deer, and teddy bears would picket the bulldozers even if permission were granted to ditch and fill a roadway through our &uot;rainforest.&uot;


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Planners also would have to deal with the rerouting of existing roadways, either fracturing traffic patterns and/or eliminating any at cross-purposes with the freeway. And how about the people, you know, the human beings who are factors in any attempts to disrupt, relocate or destroy? No doubt several neighborhoods would be affected and many folks necessarily evicted from their ancestral homes. Our very efficient planners and Council members then stood back, reflected, considered all the factors, looked at each other and punted.

There are those, of course, who would still gamble on fourth down, not sensibly, fool hardy. The ones I back will now take a good look at the millions invested in the West Bypass. It’s there, working fine, not overloaded. So turn it into an East/West Bypass and send the trucks – the ones worried about – up or down that bypass to go east or west when they get to the Hwy 58 bypass. So it’s a few miles longer going from south to east or from east to south. It still beats the stop-and-go on Main. Surely cool heads will buy this solution, save a billion, and leave the wetlands, roads, people, swamp, and teddy bears alone. Or is that too simple? Hats off to our wise Eric Nielsen, other planners, and the Council members who agree with them.

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Here are a few things you can do while waiting for your turn at the DMV, or at the post office for that matter. A dime has 118 ridges around the edge; count them. See if you can time a &uot;jiffy.&uot; It’s about a hundredth of a second. Put on your glasses and see if you are able to spot all 50 states that are written across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a $5 bill. Try to find, in your vocabulary, words that rhyme with dreamt, the only word in the English language that ends it mt, unless you prove otherwise. Also to help you pass the time, imagine the entire population of China marching past you one at a time. Now don’t be impatient and froth at the mouth while waiting, remember that you will probably spend another six months of your life waiting at stoplights. So give yourself a mental exercise proving that the word &uot;stewardesses&uot; can be typed entirely with the left hand unless you are a hunt and pecker. And one more – spell racecar, kayak, and level backwards. Same as forwards, ain’t it? OK, you’re next.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald. He can be contacted via e-mail: