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Round two of the cheers and jeers

By Staff | Sep 8, 2013

This week I will continue the trend from last week’s column by adding a few more cheers to those who deserve it for doing something good, and jeers if they earned that distinction instead.

The first cheer goes out to the Blue Earth City Council; but then, so does the first jeer.

First off, the council gets high marks for finally doing some paint striping around town in the form of crosswalk stripes. They also painted some curbing yellow, as well.

Proper crosswalk and parking markings has been pointed out a couple of times in this column as something needing to be done.

It was obvious where the crossings should be and one could detect just some very faint remains of the previous paint job, whenever that had been done.

A city official once told me that the reason the sidewalk crossings were not painted was because it was expensive and didn’t last more than a year or two, anyway. My response was that I probably shouldn’t paint my house; it is expensive and it won’t last forever, either.

It was good to see a crew out painting the crosswalks over the Labor Day weekend. They were even out on Monday, a holiday which might be because they were anticipating less traffic to deal with on that day.

Since I once gave the city a jeer for not painting the crosswalks, they certainly now deserve a cheer for doing it.

The second cheer is related to this first one.

More sidewalk crossings were painted this past summer near the Blue Earth Area middle and elementary school buildings. However, it was not the city of Blue Earth doing that striping.

A local group named the Blue Earth Active Living Coalition (ALC) ponied up the money to paint the crosswalks around the school. They furnished the paint and the template that also included the word “STOP.”

The BEA school purchased the paint sprayer and did the actual work.

Plus, the ALC purchased the rather expensive solar-powered blinking STOP signs that you can see at the intersections by the school.

The group used money from a Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant to do all this work.

The goal is to keep kids safe as they walk and bike to school. In fact, the group’s main focus is to develop safe walking and biking paths around town.

They deserve a big cheer for putting their money where their mouth is, taking the bull by the horns, and striping some crosswalks themselves.

(If you are interested in helping promote active living in Blue Earth, including walking and biking areas, call Dar Holmseth at the Community Education office at the school to find out more.)

Believe it or not, this week’s jeer is also related to paint striping. And, it goes to the Blue Earth City Council.

At Tuesday night’s meeting the council voted to paint a double yellow stripe down the center of East Street all the way from the high school to the north, to Seventh Street to the south.

Their reason was to officially show where the center of the street is, in order to keep vehicles in their proper lanes and to discourage any attempts at passing.

I understand the problem. That street is notorious for speeding cars, trucks and motorcycles. It could darn near be called Blue Earth’s East Street Speedway.

And, when drivers go around the big curve just north of the bridge over the Blue Earth River, vehicles (especially those going too fast) tend to cross over into the oncoming lane of traffic. That does create a dangerous situation.

Plus, with the construction on Highway 169 going on, East Street seems to be an “alternate route,” although not an official detour. So, traffic has increased dramatically, thus compounding the problem.

But will a double yellow stripe down the center of the road really solve anything? I doubt it. Small towns never go out and paint double yellow lines down the center of their streets. It is usually considered a waste of paint and money.

The jeer, however, is mainly for the fact the council voted to paint the stripe regardless of the cost. They gave an open checkbook to the city administrator and said to get it painted no matter what the price would be.

That is a long stretch of road. Will the cost be $5,000? Or will it be more like $10,000 or $20,000 or even more?

My thought is, that kind of money could be better spent somewhere else on something else a bit more worthwhile.

If you want to paint more stripes, how about some more sidewalk crossings? Or better still, designate a few safe walking/biking lanes on a couple of city streets.

Just a thought.