Our rural road woes are not limited to through haul trucks.
Drivers routinely pass on the double yellow line; and big trucks drive on whatever side of the road is convenient for taking the curves at speed.
Two times in four years; Medevac helicopters landed in my front yard to airlift road accident victims.
And still; we have been refused any sheriff’s patrols or traffic enforcement; or even acknowledgement that there is a problem.
Our County Legislator and the Town’s Deputy Supervisor said that we would gain their support with a petition. Going door to door for signatures – 95% of the residents signed its request for a 40 mph speed limit on our unposted 4.8 mile rural road.
But the legislator and deputy supervisor would neither sign nor support the petition – and stopped all further communication.
And the NYSDOT’s adjudication of our petition gave us a mocking 50 mph speed limit posting for just six-tenths of a mile.
Persevering; we used a webcam and recognition software; compiling data that showed a 40 mph average speed, and 45 mph 85th percentile – and gathered more research material: including screen shots documenting the disturbing fact that Google Maps is now recommending our road as quicker route than using the state highway a mile away.
We emailed this evidence to the planners and officials involved at the local, county and state levels – asking for their support for a 45 mph speed limit: in compliance with 85 percentile “best practices” – and especially noting the seriousness of the ongoing rerouting of highway traffic.
The County Highway Director replied:
“I feel I can speak for everyone that our show of support for a reduction comes in the manner of submitting a request to the state for those purposes.”
It’s one of the defining features of our collegiate run government; that officials have such an educated way of telling the rural residents: “You can go f**k yourself.”
Our Town Supervisor took a month to reply that they would discuss the possibility of supporting our request at a Town Board meeting – in another five weeks. Here we go again.
While everyone repeatedly tells us what we need to do; no one has actually helped or supported our efforts. Instead, they keep shining us on to another group; who in their turn; pass us on to the next.
It’s local, county, and state authorities: performing in a three act farce – spinning, allotting, and killing the hopes of rural residents. Tompkins County’s rural community is never helped or supported by Cornell’s policy makers. Instead: we’re constantly reminded that we need to follow the proper procedure – and meet those conditions that can never be met.
In 1981, noted anthropologist Janet Fitchen wrote:
“The real tragedy of these small enclaves of marginality and poverty is that people are playing a game of life that has been structured in such a way that they are required to play but prevented from winning”
It’s a situation that still exists. All that’s changed is that the college that traditionally ignored our rural poverty and marginalization – is now taking advantage it.
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