It is with amazement that this notion of a "by-pass" south of town won't die. The fact that it is constantly being brought forth, when it is not needed, or wanted, by the people who get the most benefit from Highway 87, the town's businesses and merchants, points to others, who wish to see their 401(k) land speculation pay off, as the movers behind this ill conceived plan.
Who am I to say such? My professions are: Urban/Rural Planner, AARP 55 ALIVE driving instructor and Patrol Officer in the Payson P.D.V.I.A. program.
Two background facts that I have mentioned before:
1. A need for the by-pass has never been shown.
2. The road crowding is a seasonal problem that does not faze our visitors because daily they face more traffic congestion than that which occurs on Payson's main drag (Surveys done 7-4-03 and 7-4-02).
Add to this the new information from this past Memorial Day -- Due to high gasoline prices traffic was as expected on Thursday and Friday afternoon drive times but, and this is significant, there were no long periods of congestion on Highway 260 at 87 Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Why? High gas prices meant people stayed at their final destination longer and did not come back all at once. This was a full-fledged vacation and not just a weekender!
If we look into the future, we will see that in the 10 years it would take to design and construct a by-pass, the following:
1. Continued high gas pricing. Not just because, as now, refineries can't produce enough to meet "world" demand (China, Asia and Africa populations are now driving more cars that need gas) but by most petroleum experts, oil supplies and reserves will start to run dry around 2001 to 2030.
2. New hydrogen vehicles will not be available for 10 to 20 years in the future. Solar and fuel cell cars may become available about the time oil reserves are falling (Russia, the Number 2 oil producer, announced last week that 2005 production would be level with or below 2004's, with demand being much higher).
3. When oil starts to become scarce, in our lifetime, what will lubricate the machines that enable the car companies to produce new cars every year? Will we see new cars every two or three years at that point?
4. As a transportation planner, would I be trying to build new roads for cars that we might not have in 10 years, or would I be improving existing roadways and implementing mass surface transportation for the world of no hydrocarbon fuels?
The time for a by-pass has passed. And, as I teach in the AARP driving classes: if you don't like to drive when traffic is heavy, plan your driving for other times!
Rev. Robert H. Elliott, Payson