One of the reasons we tolerate situations about which we also complain, be they political, financial or personal, is we are disquieted at not knowing what could happen when/if a situation changes. I think people prefer problems that are familiar to solutions which are not
That's what makes next Monday night's City Council Informational meeting at 7:30 both an opportunity and a challenge. There are few things in Norwich we ever agree on but Crash Alley as so many of us call West Main Street (better known probably as Route 82) is one of those things. Anyone who’s driven it believes something needs to be done.
I favor building a Hot Wheels’ loop-the-loop from the old Jiffy Lube to just below the Dunkin Donuts to spice up the drive and perhaps be just the world-class attraction our tourism folks have been seeking. But I am also open to other solutions.
That's why I, joined by our daughter, attended the first presentation in mid-September when the State Department of Transportation, DOT, offered their proposed solution, which included medians to prevent left-hand turns for almost the entire 1.3-mile length of the road along with six roundabouts to facilitate all turning.
The only surprise that night, for me, was how City Council chambers weren't packed with residents wanting to know more, or even less, about any and all proposed changes. The presentation was thoughtful and compelling, the reaction and in chamber comments reflected many perspectives and concerns. Judging from the volume of comments in local papers in the days that followed you might have thought the meeting had been standing room only at Dodd Stadium. Not even close.
We can fix that this Monday night. DOT’s planners had promised a second public meeting as they reached the 30% done part of their planning process and that's probably just about where we are. One of the items on Monday night should be if you have a better idea, bring it along and offer it for consideration and discussion.
If you're opposed to medians or roundabouts or any modifications at all, you should speak out as well but understand the DOT planners have data to support their conclusions, not just strongly held opinions loudly expressed that they hope will prove to be factual which is what so many online unhappy posters offered.
I don't remember anyone in September ever saying this will be easy, painless or inexpensive. Actually no one has or will ever use those descriptions about the proposal. The cost is on the far side of forty million dollars and will be a major disruption on a principal traffic artery in the heart of Norwich.
We can talk about downtown until Sears and Woolworth’s come back, but West Main Street is where many from within and without the city limits shop and work. We can keep wondering why nothing in Norwich ever changes or we can look in the mirror and acknowledge that we want change anywhere else but where we are.