■ By Bracha S. Meyerowitz / Contributed
“I have met the enemy and he is us,” stated Pogo, a cartoon character created by Walt Kelly, now deceased. Caltrans says they want to make the roads safer, and no one can be against safe roads, but the median project planned for Florida Avenue will not make the roads safer but more dangerous.
Caltrans has NO statistics showing that there is a plethora of cross median-induced accidents, no data on any deaths caused by a lack of medians. No, the median project is a make-work project on the drawing board for years and years to keep Caltrans engineers busy with anything they can think of because Jerry Brown stole the gas tax money to balance the budget and California isn’t building roads that we desperately need as the population increases.
A Hemet fireman who goes out on emergency calls testified at the sparsely attended June 21 Hemet Transportation Committee meeting that putting in the medians on Florida Avenue would adversely affect his ability to respond to medical emergencies – that currently he can utilize the center lane where the medians would go, but being forced to use alternate streets such as Acacia would increase his response time and we all know that in medical emergencies, seconds count. Delayed seconds can mean the difference between recovery and brain death even if the body survives. Never mind the regulation stating AMR ambulances are not allowed to drive on medians.
The arrogant Caltrans bullies presenting their median plan cared nothing of the medical response time, their statement was that they will now move forward with designing the landscape, never mind no one wants this, never mind the medical emergency response time this project would create…let’s see what kind of trees and flowers we will use. The arrogance of Caltrans was more oppressive than the smell of testosterone in the winning team’s locker room at the Super Bowl.
Drive south of Florida on Sanderson and see curb mark after curb mark after curb mark after curb mark on the medians. Caltrans has NO reflective paint on the dark grey concrete; they have no reflective markers on the medians. People who are used to making U-turns on Florida Avenue try that on Sanderson Avenue in the dark and ruin the alignment on their cars but Caltrans doesn’t care, they don’t pay for damage caused by their incompetent median construction. When this was pointed out at the meeting, the response was that Caltrans doesn’t make white or yellow concrete. The arrogance and incompetence of Caltrans was astonishing.
There is one thing to do. That is legally inform the Hemet City Council that if this project goes through and emergency response times get longer on Florida as they will, the City of Hemet is responsible for the death of anyone whose life could have been saved with a faster response time.”
Almost NO ONE in Hemet wants the medians, certainly no business, and Hemet has busted tail to try and fill empty Florida Avenue buildings. The meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m., a time very inconvenient to business owners who would be impacted. Traffic Commission Chairman Steve Covington said earlier that the city would have to live with the project.
Well, not really, Steve, that is eye rolling, head shaking thinking. Hemet does not have to live with a Caltrans job program dreamed up by people sitting around with nothing to do, Hemet does not have to live with an unwanted project, an undocumented needs project shoved down its throat by arrogant Caltrans characters who are used to intimidating cities that think they have to bow and curtsy to incompetent state bureaucrats.
So, hardly anyone came to the median discussion. Hardly anyone knows how to say no to the almighty State of California bureaucrats who feed at the public trough. People who will be impacted stare blankly ahead and think that if Caltrans says they are going to build this, then Hemet has no choice and let’s make it as least bad as possible. The people of Hemet are their own worst enemy. They think powerlessness, they believe powerlessness, they act powerless, they make themselves powerless when they could have the courage to stand up and say NO, no you will not ruin Florida Avenue, NO. This incompetent project could and should be stopped but not if everyone in Hemet stares at the power of the state they pay taxes to with glazed eyes.
There is one thing to do. That is legally inform the Hemet City Council that if this project goes through and emergency response times get longer on Florida as they will, the City of Hemet is responsible for the death of anyone whose life could have been saved with a faster response time.
Inform every attorney in Hemet that they have a potential windfall of millions of dollars as the Hemet City Council knowingly allowed a project that created horrific emergency response times. It will take years for the first few million dollars to be awarded but no worry, they can take Measure U money to pay the settlements and fire the policemen and the firemen they are now hiring.
By the time the second settlement of millions is paid out, the Hemet City Council may just look at each other blankly and ask, “Do you think the medians were a bad idea?” Do nothing, say nothing, accept that you are powerless; the people of Hemet are their own worst enemy.