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Archive for the ‘highways’ Category

Within the past 5 weeks, there have been 4 pedestrian deaths along a single stretch of Route 9 in Monmouth County, NJ. So authorities are stepping up their safety efforts. Are they shutting down a dangerous road or implementing speed reductions? No, of course not. They are putting out an important announcement on social media:

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Their facebook posting includes a GIF animation of Gizmo from the film Gremlins. Engineers work very hard to eliminate gremlins (glitches) from a system, which I guess is how Monmouth county views pedestrians. This kind of blame-the-victim is all too common among law enforcement, and will be completely ineffective.

Meanwhile, the car-nage countinues:

The Monmouth County prosecutor’s office posted that message on Facebook Friday afternoon, meant as a reminder to residents to be careful as they come and go. Six days earlier, authorities had responded to yet another fatal pedestrian accident where a man was struck and killed while crossing Route 9 after dark.

Two days later, they were dealing with yet another fatality.

When Isidro Martinez-Mendez, 51, of Lakewood, died Sunday evening, he was crossing Route 9. In the dark. In an area with no crosswalk, authorities have said. His death was the second fatal accident involving a pedestrian on Route 9 in just over a week and fourth on Route 9 in just over a month.

And the problem isn’t just Monmouth county but also nearby Ocean county:

It’s not only a problem along Route 9 in Monmouth County. In Ocean County, there have been 8 pedestrian deaths this year, including Irene D. Perosi, 53, of Lakewood, who was struck and killed Dec. 5 while crossing Shorrock Street, which runs along the Brick Township border near the senior communities of Leisure Village East and Four Seasons in Lakewood. She was not in a crosswalk, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. There were 8 pedestrian deaths in Ocean County in 2016 as well, State Police statistics show.

Ironically, Perosi died the day after Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato announced the county’s traffic safety crackdown in Lakewood, which was prompted by a spike in traffic fatalities in the township this year; 13 people have died, including Perosi, according to New Jersey State Police.

In any other profession, this kind of death toll would necessitate shutting down a facility. But for sociopathic traffic engineers, this is business as usual.

 

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What strange times we live in. The Trump Administration has floated the idea of a 7-cent gas tax increase to pay for public works. But the Democrats are opposing any gas tax increase. They want to fund infrastructure spending through a one-time cut in the corporate repatriation tax:

“The bottom line is that we don’t want to raise taxes on working people right now,” Schumer said. “As it stands now that is where we are at. Income distribution is so bad, I would rather pay for infrastructure by taking the money that comes from overseas [repatriation] and putting it into infrastructure.”

Repatriation refers to profits large corporations earn overseas. Companies such as Apple and Google have accumulated hundreds of billions in foreign profits, but don’t have to pay tax on those profits until the money is repatriated to the US. Schumer’s proposal is to provide a one-time reduction in the tax rate to “encourage” these companies to pay up more quickly the money owed the US Treasury.

To describe Schumer’s plan as good for working people is incredibly misleading. Any decrease in corporate tax receipts has to be made up by regular taxpayers (i.e. the working class). And Schumer’s plan isn’t sustainable because it is a one-time deal, which means the gas tax will inevitably be raised. So working class taxpayers will end up paying for both a gas tax hike and a corporate tax cut.

 

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The World Socialist Web Site is asking the same question I’ve been thinking about: why weren’t trains used to evacuate people from the path of hurricanes Irma and Harvey? The highways were really the only way out of Houston and South Florida, and highways are notoriously inefficient for moving large numbers of people. And that presumes access to a car, which a lot of people don’t have:

For millions, their only way to flee is by car. Gas shortages have spread across the state, and drivers confront extremely heavy traffic that burns through gas with little progress. From southern Florida, there is only Interstate 95 or Interstate 75 to head north, both of which have had extensive delays for days. On Friday, northbound delays covering hundreds of miles were visible on I-75 and I-95 even into Georgia and South Carolina.

This “fend for yourself” method of evacuation presents an enormous inequality, where working people must spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to head to safety, assuming they even have a car. As a retirement destination, Florida also has many residents over 65 years old. This includes residents in nursing care, or with physical or mental impairments, that make them unable to drive or fly.

Why haven’t passenger trains, which could carry a thousand people a time, been sent to Florida to help? Residents without money or the ability to travel by car or plane could be taken to designated points of shelter and food.

Prior to Hurricane Gustav in 2008, there was a small successful example of this, as some 2,000 residents of New Orleans were taken to Memphis, Tennessee on special trains. A worker who participated in the rail operation noted that “At least 50% of the passengers were elderly, many in wheelchairs, on walkers or canes and generally unable to move very well without some assistance.” On a return trip, many passengers brought more luggage, as they could buy essential supplies in Memphis that would have been out of stock or priced-gouged in New Orleans. With baggage cars and plenty of space, the train accommodated this for free—compared to an airline that would charge $50 per bag.

It should also be noted that car evacuations are quite dangerous due to car crashes. It is not unusual for hurricanes to cause as many casualties through car crashes (often hundreds of miles away) as the storm itself.

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Residents fleeing Hurricane Rita

 

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It will be amusing if they actually enforce this proposed law on tourists in Waikiki:

The Honolulu City Council passed a bill Wednesday that prohibits pedestrians from looking at their mobile devices while they cross the street. A pedestrian making a 911 call is exempted. Emergency responders performing official duties won’t face penalties either. Otherwise, fines will range from $15 to $99, depending on how many times they flout the ban.
Note this bill only applies to pedestrians. It will still be legal to view a mobile device while driving a car through an intersection.

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Apparently, Democrats learned nothing from their recent election debacle. They are still promoting the idea of allowing large multinationals to avoid paying their taxes. Former Michigan Senator Carl Levin has joined Republicans in calling for a “tax holiday” on offshore corporate profits, and using the windfall to fund infrastructure projects:

As divided as our country may be, one issue where there appears to be strong bipartisan agreement is the need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. Democrats have supported this for years, and President Trump has made it one of the centerpieces of his domestic program. The question is how we’re going to pay for it. Many are eyeing the huge pot of money — $2 trillion to $3 trillion — sitting offshore courtesy of U.S. corporations who have stashed it there, because they don’t want to pay taxes on it.

With the infrastructure proposal looming large, that pot of money has become an attractive answer. But the big questions are what tax rate reduction would be a sufficient incentive for corporations to finally pay the tax owed on their offshore profits.

Hilary Clinton made a similar proposal during the campaign, as have other Democrats in Congress. This policy would be a mistake for many obvious reasons. First, it rewards bad behavior on the part of large multinationals. The law is clear on the amount of tax owed, and corporations should pay it just like everyone else has to. The second problem is that these infrastructure projects would be almost entirely for roads and highways; i.e. don’t expect it to pay for subways or high-speed rail. And finally, this tax windfall would be just a one-time event. It does nothing to address the long-term decline in gas-tax revenues, which is the root cause of the infrastructure deficit.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook testifying before Congress on his company’s tax avoidance

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Mexican standoff

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Just another day of vehicular carnage in San Francisco:

Three pedestrians are recovering Thursday, after they were struck by motorists on San Francisco streets yesterday.

In the first such case from Wednesday, two pedestrians were rushed to San Francisco General Hospital at 11:02 a.m. after a driver hit them. According to the San Francisco Police Department, the victims were struck at the intersection of Hyde Street and Golden Gate Avenue when the 36-year-old male driver of a white sedan who was headed down Hyde “suddenly placed [the] vehicle into reverse.”

The vehicle “sped backwards,” police say, striking the pedestrians “who were waiting at a crosswalk.” Citing the ongoing investigation, police said that it was still “unclear” if the driver would face charges in the collision.

Two pedestrians at a crosswalk struck by a driver speeding in reverse — and it is unclear if charges will be filed?

Then later in the day:

A 72-year-old man was listed in life-threatening condition after being struck by a vehicle Wednesday near Balboa Park in San Francisco, police said. The pedestrian was crossing the street in the area of Ocean and Delano avenues when a car hit him at 6:19 p.m., officials said. Although the pedestrian was apparently in a crosswalk, whether he had the right of way wasn’t immediately clear, Manfredi said.

This intersection is unsignalized with clearly marked crosswalks. It is unambiguous as to who had right of way.

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