Other Voices: Traffic is a local and global concern | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Traffic is a local and global concern

I attended the Grass Valley review of the General Plan update and came away enlightened but anxious.

When asked by the staff if the council members wished to set any priorities at this time, the answer was “no.” And perhaps that was the correct answer to the question as it was framed.

But I, and President Bush had he not been busy with his own General Plan update (aka State of the Nation message), are anxious about the lack of emphasis given to traffic.

Yes traffic. This matter of traffic always comes up when discussing growth. Locally the concern is generally for the inconvenience of congestion. But there is another traffic problem that has much wider implications. Traffic runs on oil and, as the President put it, “We have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.”

There are two far-reaching implications of this addiction: The first is that it drives up the world price of oil, and the second is that burning oil means more greenhouse gases and the consequent global warming. (Somehow the president missed that one in his speech. But I applaud his initiative to advance the teaching and application of science. We are a Third World country when it comes to scientific literacy. This commitment must have been very difficult for him given his track record.)

Besides the obvious financial considerations, both individually and for the nation, there is another aspect of that addiction which is not so obvious. We are forced to finance both ends of the war on terrorism, financing our end through taxes (and borrowing) and financing their end as well by driving the price of oil up to $60 a barrel with the prospect of greater cost to come.

As I drive I am aware of the fact that I am financing the insurgency, paying for the weapons that have killed more than 2,000 of our servicemen and women. It matters not whether the gas I purchased came from an “unstable part of the world.” Even if it came from Canada or Mexico, it is our addiction that has driven the world price to $60 and that is the price that the unstable part of the world gets for its oil. And it is that unstable part of the world that finances the insurgency.

So, how does this relate to priorities for the Grass Valley City Council? A primary consideration among the options at their disposal must be traffic, not congestion, but what will be the anticipated traffic-miles resulting from their choices.

Specifically, annexation of the Bear River Mill site would be a poor choice-slippery slope of eventual development down Highway 49 as far as the commercial eye can see. If I squint, I can see Roseville in the distance. The very worst form of traffic we have in Nevada County is daily, long-distance commuter traffic down 49. I understand its origins, and I sympathize with those caught up in it, but it is a big problem. I have no idea how to solve this problem of the bedroom community. Anybody? The market place?

Loma Rica would appear to have the least potential for miles driven by residents. Unfortunately, it also has the greatest potential for local traffic congestion if you go much beyond the current limit of 180 homes. It is the best possible development in the worst possible place.

I won’t make any friends with this, but there are often painful choices that must be made. There is no solution without consequences. But the path of least consequence at this time appears to be a modest development at Loma Rica with the eventual aggravation of bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Brunswick basin. Future T-shirt slogan: “I was born on the back seat in the Brunswick basin.” Ah, for those halcyon days when it might have read: “I was conceived on the back seat in the Brunswick basin.”

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