Archive for August, 2009

Arlington Board Says ‘NO’ to HOT

Friday, August 21st, 2009

A voice of reason has broken through the constant chatter about the metro area’s infamous HOT lanes. Instead of ‘High Occupancy Toll,’ they ought to be called what they will become, High Income Toll lanes.

Name it what you will, but this Bonus for BMW’s, or Cruises for Cadillac’s, or Lightning on a Lexus, will only speed the way for those who, in this economy and this region, have the bucks to shell out “an estimated trip cost of $5 to $6” per HOT trip. [ Virginia DOT ]. Think of a mom, on minimum wage, who has to get home fast to help a sick child. Can she afford to cough up that much? It may be chump change for some, but it can be food or electricity or rent to others.

And now, thanks to a suit filed by County Attorney, Sephen Mac Isaac, a court is going to have to consider what apparently none of the officials overseeing this new massive river of concrete on 395/95, took into consideration. That would be the deterioration in quality of the air it would shed on us Arlingtonians, who have a habit of breathing most days. [ Washington Post ]

Oh, we’re such complainers, aren’t we? Always caring about peoples’ health and economic problems. If only we were like the Town Hall screamers and trampled all over the rights of individuals in need, this mammoth rich-guys speedway would be within reach.

Fortunately for all of us, the work had to stop, because the economic crash (why aren’t any Wall Street bankers in jail?) has collapsed state revenue and ‘the market’ is skittish about buying the bonds to support this “private/public venture.” [ Washington Post ]

You won’t fund us shedding any tears. Yes, construction halts mean jobs lost, and that is terrible in any instance. But why not put those same workers along Columbia Pike to construct the long agreed-upon trolley [ Pike Transit ] that will surely cut down on the Pike’s daily tsunami of rush hour fumes.

So, thank you, County Board, for standing up for us to halt HOT, and for your continued work to weaken the movement to widen I-66.

A Moment to Last Forever

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

In June of 1966 I was a religious ‘brother’ on my way to potential priesthood. All second year members of this particular religious order were allowed to visit their hometowns for two days.

This was after one year of a ’see no tv, read no newspapers, and observe-Grand Silence-most-of-every-day’ (you couldn’t talk to anyone) novice life; followed by my first year as a physics major at Loyola U. in Chicago.

When I got to Springfield, Illinois, my hometown, I said hi to my family and — after calling up my high school senior love and asking if we could talk — borrowed the family car to meet Mary Ann Templeton. I’d not been allowed to write to her, and we hadn’t seen or talked to each other since the night of our high school graduations, two long years before.

I think I probably picked her up at six in the evening. We drove to a park by Lake Springfield, parked the car, and talked till five the next morning. No kissing or hugging, no deep breathing, just talk … about how we felt about each other and what the future might hold.

At one point late in the night, we decided to walk to the empty, darkened playground. I reached over to hold Mary Ann’s hand, as we walked over a ditch, but she held back. She sat in a swing and we looked up.

There were the stars, the magnificent stars the way the sky used to look before ‘light pollution’ knocked out that stunning sight in most cities and towns.

We still talk about that night, and both of us say to each other, again and again, “Look at the stars.”

Milky Way on the Prairie

That’s a moment I’d like to have lasted forever.

Monday, August 10th, 2009