Department of Idiocy

What this state needs is a Department of Idiocy.

No, really, and we nominate as commissioner whoever at the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently came up with two catastrophically dumb ideas that unnecessarily would endanger motorists.

The first really, really bad idea was to shut off the lights on the Glenn Highway in the wee hours to save money.

The Glenn, it almost goes without saying, is the only highway in or out of Anchorage to or from the north. Moose routinely cavort across its lanes in the winter and one can only surmise a motorist seeing one looming ahead in the dark, in a snowstorm, would be thinking that saving a few bucks on highway lighting was a lousy idea.

The second stroke of genius was to not snowplow a section of the Seward Highway, from Mile 45 to Mile 74, between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., and even doing less plowing during the day – again, to save money.

The Seward Highway is the only highway leading south out of Anchorage and is a lifeline for food and other commodities headed to or from the entire Kenai Peninsula. Sometimes it snows on the highway – a lot. What are truckers and motorists and emergency personnel traveling late, or early, supposed to do if several feet of snow stacks up on the roadway during the night while the DOT saves a few bucks? How many accidents will there be?

While we appreciate the agency trying to find ways to save money – but killing people to do it is unacceptable.

4 Responses to Department of Idiocy

  1. Jim Schradle October 18, 2019 at 10:44 am

    However, I heard The Arts got full funding so it’s a reasonable trade-off

    Reply
  2. R-Dubya October 18, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Maybe(?), the first step towards financial stability is to eliminate public employee unions.

    Reply
  3. Mike Prax October 18, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    This criticism of the DOT is a departure from Mr. Jenkin’s insightful commentaries.

    Without comparing DOT’s decision to turn off the lights on the Glenn Highway or forego plowing snow on the Seward highway to other alternatives, or at least providing some data to objectively access the risk, and a standard to follow, we don’t have a reasonable basis to criticize their decision.

    The DOT never had an unlimited budget. Therefore it never has provided unlimited service. The only thing that draws attention to these decisions is that they are reducing service that it previously provided.

    Those of us who live in the interior are accustomed to taking ‘the roads less traveled’ and therefore adapt to the inconvenience and increased risk of a lower level of road maintenance by reducing our speed. It is entirely possible that the traffic volume of these roads at these hours of the day is comparable to that of interior roads and therefore the higher degree of maintenance is not justified.

    Personally, many roads in Alaska are over designed and over maintained given the traffic volume. We certainly wouldn’t pay for the level of maintenance we receive if we were paying the cost directly.

    Reply
  4. A.M. Johnson October 19, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Have to chuckkle a bit here, you interior boys were not any receptive to the Alaska Marine Highway being “Our only road access” to the Mainland that is affordable, when our budget share was loped off by 2/3s. So boys, its pain and misery shared
    Get over it, view life in the winter through the eyes of the 1800’s

    A.M.Johnson-Ketchikan

    Reply

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