Friday, June 27, 2014


                                                               Paul Harvey

     If we have a distinction among states it is the Kansas Road System.  And if we have a Boondoggle anywhere it is usually connected to a highway.
     Now lets set the stage.  Kansas is ranked second in quality of highways in the country.  This is something that many a politician and economic development department sets a great deal of pride in.
      Some of the quality that sets this standard does seem to be concentrated in the generally same areas, (those with the most votes).  So let this be set in prospective.  Yes it is a good thing that we have less crumbling, poorly designed, overworked, and abused highway systems in the country.  Boy as bad as our roads are consider how bad other states have it.
       Roads are direct causes for the prosperity for the state.  Materials need to be moved around, manufactured goods need to be delivered.  Keeping transportation costs down are a factor in what you eat, sleep, drive, relax, and make your living in.
      Being first or second has different qualities.  If you are first among the worst is it all that good?  There is a mixed blessing in being first like being first in abortions, first in loosing our young to seek lives elsewhere, first in deteriorating cities, first in murder, first in gang membership, first in school drop outs, first in school graduations.
      First in the production of oil, first in the production of wheat, first in the deterioration of pipelines, on and on.  You get the idea.  Being leaders is a mixed bag and there is always someone ranked first through last.
     The Interstate system was conceived and enacted by our own President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Recognising that a country hindered by poorly planned highway systems could not excel but so far.  And it was the war that brought that out.  We were fighting a war on two fronts.  We had manufacturing know how and resources in the interior but we still had the problem that faced this country from the start.  How to get from one place to the other quickly, efficiently, and provide a back up to the possibility that our military bases could become jeopardized.
      We are a nation that is in love with the automobile and being able to go where we please when we want to.  We had a few examples that combined to set our country on the path of a transportation dynasty.  It started with a few forward looking people.  Building straight long highways like US 81, 281, 50, 54, and legendary Route 66.
     We also had business giants that saw the automobile and a highway system as a way to slim down the railroads.  Mass transit is a subject that is always hottest in areas where you cannot afford to own a car.  But in the ninety percent of the rest of the country it is roads and bridges that keep us on top.
     It seems that there is not any interest to build bullet trains or other mass transportation.  Air travel has become such a hassle and an expensive one that it is still the highway and the truck that we depend on for prosperity.
      So this brings us back to the beginning.  Kansas is second in the nation in roads.  So what does this mean?  What has brought this subject on?  There is a meeting in Cottonwood Falls about US 50.  A major two lane highway that crosses the state.  Work has been going on for years.  It has gained the status of Super Two but what is the gripe?  It is still one of the most dangerous highways in the state and the people are sick of sending their loved ones and others to the hospital and morgue.
      I have driven it and actually like the drive but, it is always with the thought of the accidents that seem to plague the road even in it's best stretches.  I guess you can attribute my awareness that I am a retired Firefighter/EMT and used to cut people out of these wrecks and send them to the hospital or morgue.  Though retired far longer that on the job that does not diminish what a person has learned and experienced.  I stubbornly held onto my EMT certification until 2010 so was up to date on procedure and protocol.  I was not healthy enough to be a street tech so I became the old fart telling war story's at rectifications.  I also fought to keep our EMS unit in the area of the county I lived in when the politicians wanted to pull it back to the urban areas and let the rural areas be left with unacceptable response times.
      So this has jarred so many opinions and stories that this is going to be a multi part series.

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