Tom Clyde: A Sundance traffic miracle |

Tom Clyde: A Sundance traffic miracle

We were all witness to a miracle during Sundance.

Traffic on 248 was backed up to the rail trail for the first couple of days. The normal back up is bad, and the Sundance traffic only made it worse. And then, through some kind of special effects magic, the matrix opened up. On Wednesday, even the normal back up was gone. There was no immediately obvious explanation why a traffic jam that has persisted for the last 5 or 6 years was suddenly gone.

Then I figured it out. The new pedestrian tunnel, after several months of delays, was finally open. The traffic lights along 248 are somewhat coordinated by UDOT, and at least only stop traffic when there is somebody crossing the highway at one of the controlled intersections. But for years, there has been the light at the crosswalk by the High School that turned red whenever somebody pushed the button. No two students ever crossed the street simultaneously, so they were randomly stopping traffic one at a time all day. So the traffic backed up.

It got even worse while the world’s longest running tunnel project was under construction. The low-tech push-button crosswalk light was replaced by temporary traffic lights that were even dumber. The temporary lights stopped traffic on a timer, whether there were students trying to cross the street or not. And that backed things up to the Rail Trail on a regular basis. That temporary lights went away when the tunnel opened, and traffic actually moves. Level of service “D” never felt so good.

It really doesn’t matter if you are one car ahead or one car behind.”

It’s not perfect. People still can’t figure out how to merge where it narrows to a single lane. It shouldn’t be a competition. It really doesn’t matter if you are one car ahead or one car behind. Except that you don’t want to get stuck in the half-hour traffic jam with the exhaust pipe from a diesel pickup blasting into your heater intake. Now, on normal days, driving into town involves only a minimal slow-down, and traffic moves at a consistent 25 mph. In the context of our reduced expectations of life here in paradise, that’s pretty darn good.

A city council member was very proud of the improvement, and said it had saved $62 million (of UDOT’s money) by not widening the road to 4 lanes. As another three thousand units come on line in the area, we will find this traffic improvement to be short-lived. Hang on to the $62 million plan. We will be having this conversation again all too soon.

I’m still trying to digest what happened with the impeachment. It was clear that the Senate was never going to get a 2/3rd vote to remove the moron from office. I’m not even sure that would have been a good outcome. The country is so divided and hostile that the first-ever defenestration of a corrupt president would not have gone over well. The inauguration of President Pence would not happen smoothly or quietly.

But I’m mad as hell that the Senate didn’t do its job and conduct a real trial. The claim that the House should have presented the completed case makes no sense given that the President was preventing them from doing so. “Let the voters decide,” sounds good, but I’d like to decide on facts, rather than uncorroborated Lev Parnus ramblings and John Bolton book leaks. The facts will certainly continue to drip out, and there’s nothing to suggest any of it will exonerate Trump. The sham trial the Senate operated was a disgrace to the Senate and an insult to the American people who pay their salaries. Could we at least get a bipartisan censure?

So we have Trump for at least another year. He will continue to lie and undermine the effectiveness of the government by appointing a coal lobbyist to head the EPA. He may yet tweet us into a war somewhere. Because the Senate took no action, it will be interpreted as an endorsement of corruption.

I wish I felt like the election would fix things. It almost doesn’t matter who wins. The country has splintered into this silly tribalism. It’s not like the Civil War era when slavery was the dividing issue—there was no middle ground on that. I don’t see an issue now that presents such an uncrossable dividing line. Nobody I know is particularly cranked up about trade policy with China, on either side. Not even the most zealous gun owners think shooting up a school is a good idea. When you talk to people on the other side, they aren’t crazy, at least not on an individual level.

Trump is too scattered to have a coherent set of policies that people point to in supporting him. The Democratic candidates have proposed all kinds of pie-in-the-sky stuff that won’t happen, and likewise, isn’t a clearly defined image of the future.

The tribal divide doesn’t make any sense. But is sure is corrosive.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

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