Dumb, dumb, dumb

There are bad ideas and horrible ideas. Shutting off the lights on a 34-mile stretch of the Glenn Highway is both – and a dumb idea, to boot.

But that is exactly what the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities wants to do between Anchorage and Mat-Su Borough between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. As winter approaches. As moose are moving about. And drivers are determined to drive 70 miles per hour or even faster.

Many of us remember the dark old days when the Glenn was not lighted except at interchanges. We remember how the icy roads soaked up headlights, making it hard to see the edges of the highway. We remember the thrill of 1,000 pounds of moose appearing out of the darkness on the highway ahead. We remember snow making for near-zero visibility in the darkness. And we remember the thrill of just getting home or to work in one piece.

The idea – DOT is calling it a lighting curfew – is to save money, the agency says. DOT estimates it will save about $190,000 in electrical costs once the lighting curfew is implemented. Interchanges and overpasses will remain lighted.

The Glenn Highway is not the first such “curfew.” DOT has ordered lighting them elsewhere – short sections of the Sterling Highway, Minnesota Drive and C Street, but who cares? The idea of turning off the lights on a moose-infested stretch of Alaska’s busiest highway in winter is beyond the pale.

Surely, in a state with a multibillion-dollar budget, a state that just chopped it residents’ Permanent Fund dividends in half to take in another half-billion dollars or so, there must be $190,000 laying around somewhere so that nobody has to die in the dark on the Glenn Highway.

Government, as we have mentioned before, has very few legitimate tasks. Public safety is among the top responsibilities. Being dumb is not.

9 Responses to Dumb, dumb, dumb

  1. Fred Flintstone October 8, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Let’s trade one of the surplus $400k UAA jobs for 2 years of highway lighting.

    It’s a zero sum and will actually produce something useful.

  2. R-Dubya October 8, 2019 at 11:30 am

    If the desire is to save $190K/yr, how many of the useless slugs can we lay-off to reach the goal of $190k/yr?
    My guess is that you only need to lay-off about 2-3, and surely we can find a few good candidates … Problem Solved!!!

  3. Will Gay October 8, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Beyond dumb. The contingent liability for one lawsuit, which they will lose, will wipe out many years worth of perceived savings.

  4. LQW October 8, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Gee, if only there was a renewable power source in the valley, like wind. If only …

  5. Elizabeth October 8, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Good points. My initial response was ‘ADAPT!’, slow down, drive intentionally and attentively. I commuted for years on the dark highway before lights and on the two lane stretch before the four lane. I do not think there were any more accidents than now with all the lights and traffic separated by huge median and with extra lanes. Albeit I absolutely agree about the budget and there is ample excessive mis-spending elsewhere that should be put on a ‘curfew’ instead. Lighting does fit with public safety overall which is one of the essential functions of government. Hence I do agree with all of your points but I also feel we have gotten too soft and way to distracted in our driving and if one is driving between those horrible hours then extra vigilance and slower speeds are called for anyway.

  6. Donna Evans October 8, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    What kind of bulbs do they use? Is it possible they can save some money if they used a different type of bulb? There are several Signs and Lighting businesses in Anchorage. Surely the DOT could chat with those experts. Lightbulbs continually improve.

  7. John London October 8, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Wonder what the cost of these life savers (lights) were to begin with? The libs try nutty verbiage like PFD Personal Flotation Device which people did not get or understand so they have went back to LIFE VEST or LIFE JACKET. I’m confused now. If only we could get them to change the rest of their inane and silly alphabet soup of making over the world for no good reason anyone can figure.
    But for the lights and in the mode of change, why not call them LIFE SAVERS. Even see the Trooper picture of a Moose sitting in the front seat of a car after coming thru the windshield. IT’s not funny!

  8. RevBill October 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Please join in prayers for those who will die because of this folly. There is a big open question: Will the lights be turned back on according to the number of deaths or according to the cost of the lawsuits resulting from those deaths?

  9. Bill Hutchison October 9, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    $190K/year? That is only about 3,000.00 per dark day/night. Heck, I’d donate $10-20 per year to keep the lights on. How about someone starting a GoFundMe to cover the cost?


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