Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oneida Route 5 project has poor cost/benefit ratio

The new sidewalk passes through the place NAPA's been using for parking.
Oneida Mayor Don Hudson’s guest column in Tuesday’s edition made an important point.

He noted how the construction has made it difficult for businesses along Route 5 and suggested we all make a point to stop in and patronize them.

Hear, hear; the man makes sense.

But he’s also a politician, and left out some other facts that deserve saying:

The state’s Route 5 project was poorly conceived and will do little to improve the flow of traffic through Oneida.

Construction signs often say, “Temporary inconvenience; permanent improvement.” In this case, the inconvenience has been too long and the improvement, while permanent, is negligible.

How many of us used to travel along Route 5 and say, “What a wonderful stretch of road this would be if it only had sidewalks.”

There were lots of problems with that road, and the lack of sidewalks wouldn’t have made most people’s top five.

A couple of weeks ago I was traveling on the road to the auto parts store in the Glenwood Shopping Plaza.

My Jeep was hard to start on damp mornings, so I figured I’d replace the distributor cap and perhaps the ignition wires in an attempt to cure the problem.

I don’t do much mechanical work, so I rarely patronize any auto parts store. But I shopped at the Advance Auto Parts store before; I received good service, so I was returning.

But here I was, stopped in bumper-to-bumper traffic through the construction zone and noticed there was the NAPA auto parts store to my left. I quickly left Route 5 and pulled into a parking space at the NAPA store.

As I climbed out of my Jeep, I noticed something odd. I’d parked in one of the store’s clearly marked spaces, but I was also parked across the new sidewalk.

The state built the new sidewalk right through the store’s prime parking spaces; a pedestrian walking along the sidewalk would have to walk around my Jeep.

In case you’re interesested. NAPA did have what I needed, and it appears replacing the distributor cap (and the rotor) may have cured my problem. I haven’t decided whether or not to replace the wires.

Which (at last) brings us back to the mayor’s message.

The Route 5 businesses have been through a tough time. I’m sure many of us will make a point of shopping there when we can.

But what about the city?

I assume the city will work with the business owners as they reconfigure their parking areas. After all, the wonderful new sidewalks weren’t there when the buildings’ site plans were drawn.

The real question is: Will the city police be ticketing our vehicles for driving on the sidewalk or parking on the sidewalk when we do stop at these businesses?

There are many who say “the law is the law,” and oppose ever bending the rules. Others believe government should use discretion and sometimes strictly following the rules is the wrong course of action.

What do you think?

Should the Oneida City Police strictly enforce the parking laws in this area or tend to let things slide?

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