A once-lofty presidential adviser, trying to extricate his sticky boss from an unwelcome wicket, was once quoted as saying, "Let's confuse them with the facts."
That's what went on at the ADOT meeting in Pine recently, ostensibly called to determine what, if anything, is to be done about the 20-odd miles of highway between Payson and the Rim. Sure, several varied alternatives were presented, all of them bad, in the hope that no majority would like any one of them and each attendee would be forced to settle for the boar with the shortest tusks.
Going in, ADOT knew that everyone would agree on the need to widen the highway, but since they really don't want to do that, at least not in our lifetimes, they had to drag out a tried and true red herring... "How do we get all this nasty traffic around your towns?"
This bogus dilemma has worked for every highway department in every state that wants to permanently shelve road safety projects in the hinterlands, where there just aren't enough voters to really make a difference.
The simple solution was the one not presented, the one that is working today in thousands of rural towns across the country. The problem is NOT getting the traffic THROUGH the towns, but getting the traffic TO the towns.
All that needs be done is to make the highway safe for highway speeds, then as traffic approaches the towns, SLOW IT DOWN! What's so complicated about that? Who says traffic has to move through or around a town at 55 miles per hour or better?
Well, it's not at all complicated, and this question was never asked. Had it been, the answer would have been way too obvious, and they really didn't want to deal with obvious answers.
Seems to me the meeting was a crashing success, as is evidenced by the resulting pronouncement: "Nothing can be done without community support."
Ya wanna bet?
I'll wager that SOMETHING will be done... sometime down the ever-winding road, after who knows how many more headline-grabbing vehicular altercations on 87, someone in the Gila County Brain Trust Division will commission a STUDY, for which we will pay dearly, a study which will tell us what we already know, that the highway is an aging example of death-trap engineering and needs to be widened. "But," it will finish, "how do we get all that nasty traffic around your towns?"
By the way, I'm accepting applications for a new start-up venture of mine... Studies-R-Us. Please mail your resume, as the drive up here is a bit risky.