Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fun Things on the Internet

Let me take a break from road design issues and a write about some free fun things you can do on the Internet.

There are many MMORPGs to choose from, but not many are as free and addicting as Maple Story, produced by Wiznet of Korea.

While you're waiting for that 200MB download to finish, why not play an online game of 20 Questions?

Tired of that already? Give notpron a try. It's billed as "The hardest riddle available on the internet," but to me it resembles a scavenger hunt.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Avon Mountain Road Design

Forgive me for obsessing over this, but I'm writing again about the Avon Mountain crash. This time I have an open response to Toni Gold's op-ed piece, titled "Designed to Kill," which was published in The Hartford Courant on Sunday.

Ms. Gold begin strong. A title like "Designed to Kill" certainly is eye-catching. And it actually starts out the way I started a rough draft of my first Avon Crash blog article. "It was only a matter of time before a horrible crash would occur at the intersection of routes 44 and 10 in Avon...." Here's someone whose profession it is to teach "context-sensitive design to highway engineers" who agrees with me.

But as I read on, I realized that she doesn't get it. Her grand "solution" is to replace the intersection with a roundabout.

Yes, that's just what I want to see at the bottom of a steep grade while I careen wildly out of control -- a roundabout. (That's sarcasm you're reading, in case you can't recognize it.)

Of course a roundabout causes motorists to slow down, but only if they have control of their vehicles in the first place. But if a roundabout had been in place at the time of the crash, the truck would have collided with the roundabout's barriers, plus any vehicles that might have been negotiating the circle. If the truck were to have collided with the bus in the circle, it would've broad-sided the bus, and several of the bus passengers would've been killed.

I had hoped that someone who teaches highway engineers how to design roads would have more sense than to propose putting a roundabout at the bottom of a mountain. But this is a case of someone with a hammer who views everything else as a nail. Her "expertise [is] in transportation for livable communities," according to her bio. Unfortunately, the bottom of a steep hill is no place for a livable community, let alone an intersection.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Poor Road Design

Well, I lost my bet. But I'm glad.

I'm referring to a comment I made in my previous post. I predicted that no one would blame the Avon Mountain crash on poor road design.

Yesterday, callers to a Hartford-based radio talk show echoed certain points I made earlier. One caller said that the only way to prevent a re-occurrence is to move the road. Another caller pointed out that our quaint, winding, New England roads are merely 400-year-old Indian trails that have been widened a bit and paved. They're unsuitable for our modern cars and trucks to cruise on safely. These remarks imply poor road design.

This is encouraging. But the voices that really matter are those that represent the DOT. Yet I doubt we'll get an honest assessment from them, as that would lead to a backlash of litigation. Instead, they'll quietly study their options and make some small changes.

Wanna bet?