Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is Councilman Esslinger concerned about safety or not? It seems to depend...

On Tuesday the Oshkosh Common Council will consider what to do with the proposed reconstruction of the intersection at Jackson Street and Murdock Avenue. It will also learn at that time if the state DOT is willing to consider a less expensive alternative to a roundabout in redoing the intersection. This particular intersection needs to be redone, we’re told, because it is unsafe. According to public works director David Patek at the last council meeting, the intersection ranks as one of the worst in the city for accidents – ranking in the top 10, possibly the top five, for accidents each year in recent years.

This article from the Oshkosh Northwestern lays out the specifics of what’s being proposed by the DOT, but some councilors would prefer to see something different to save money. If it can be done for less money, great, as long as safety is improved. But it sounds like property will have to be acquired regardless of whether the intersection is done in a traditional way or with a roundabout; and that will drive up the cost regardless.

The article also includes comments from councilor Paul Esslinger, which are, without question, some of the silliest, most hypocritical I’ve heard in some time. In the piece, Esslinger questions whether the number of accidents at the intersection are really a result of its design. He is quoted as saying "Accidents are not caused because of design… it's due to inattentive drivers."

I guess not only is Mr. Esslinger an expert in economic development (based on previous comments about whether an office building will be successful along the riverfront), but in traffic design and safety, as well. His comment clearly goes against what the DOT has said and I bet if he talked to people in law enforcement or accident reconstruction he’d find road design is most definitely a cause of accidents. Is it always the culprit? No, but it’s not always just inattentive drivers either. If that were the case then Mr. Esslinger must expect us to believe that drivers are only inattentive at this and a few other select intersections in town and that they pay much closer attention at all others. Esslinger's argument doesn’t make sense.

Mr. Esslinger is also quoted in this article as saying this about the proposal of a roundabout at Jackson and Murdock: "I can't understand why we'd pay more for an intersection for people who don't want roundabouts to begin with."

I know councilman Esslinger professes to always do his homework, but the dog must have eaten his homework this time around. After all, data clearly shows that roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections. That should put this project in the positive column on Esslinger’s ledger. He’s the same guy, after all, who shoved sidewalks down the throats of River Mill Road residents in the name of safety only a month or so ago.

It’s also interesting that Mr. Esslinger claims people “don’t want roundabouts to begin with.” Many people didn’t want or think sidewalks were necessary at this time on River Mill Road, but he turned a deaf ear to them. Now in this case he's listening to people.

Most people in the city don’t yet know enough about roundabouts to know if they want them or not. What is probably more the case here is people naturally resist change and in Oshkosh, progress usually seems to be met with resistance more often than not by some. They seem to have the attitude that just because we’ve always done something one way, it should always be done that way. That is, to coin a phrase, pedestrian.

But, if Paul Esslinger is right and it’s only inattentiveness that causes accidents, then I would submit we really didn’t need sidewalks on River Mill. He could have saved himself a lot of political hell, and instead of the hoopla and divisiveness he created just given motorists a lecture about being more attentive when they drive. Thank you, councilor Esslinger. I'm sure we all feel much safer knowing you're "leading" the charge for safety - at least when you want to.


Blogger Cheryl Hentz said...

The following two comments are in response to this same editorial piece posted on the original Eye on Oshkosh site. They're being posted here for readers who visit only this one.

Authored by: Oshguy on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 08:08 PM MDT
Of course he is NOT concerned about safety. What interests him is GRANDSTANDING. I have no idea what Esslinger means when he stated: "I can't understand why we'd pay more for an intersection for people who don't want roundabouts to begin with." Who doesn't want a roundabout? I think it would be a good choice at that intersection. My wife thinks it would be a good choice at that intersection. My neighbor thinks it would be a good choice at that intersection. Apparently Esslinger does not represent us, rather, just himself!

When Esslinger questioned the "assertions that the intersection needs to be rebuilt because making turns is difficult for drivers of large for trucks, arguing that they could choose a different route" I have to ask myself (because I am not able to contact him during the week of EAA because he is not home and he is the only Council Member without a city e-mail address): Is this what a city needs to show progress? . . . a Council Member telling truckers they should choose a different route than the 4 land road which meets another 4 lane road? How stupid can he be?

Cheryl prepare yourself, Monte is gunning for you!!!! How dare you question Esslinger's two-faced positions! Keep up the great work bringing truth forward!!!

Authored by: admin on Tuesday, July 24 2007 @ 06:15 AM MDT
Hi Oshguy,

Thanks for seeing what is obvious to anyone who doesn't have on their "Paul Esslinger Blinders."

Your points about Esslinger's comments with regard to truckers are well taken and make sense. Major arterials were built to withstand the wear and tear associated with semi-tractor trailers driving on them; other streets may not be. If we took Esslinger's advice and re-routed these trucks we'd likely have the added expense of other road reconstruction, and probably sooner under that scenario. Besides, are there other streets nearby which are designated as truck routes or which could be? Does the DOT have some say in what is and isn't deemed a truck route? It seems to be there's more to it than just telling truckers to drive down another street.

Thanks for the "warning" about Kent Monte. It's not the first time he or his wife have tried, though unsuccessfully, to take apart one of my arguments, especially where their pal Esslinger is involved, and I'm sure it won't be the last. And the way they so frequently suggest that I'm making things up or outright lying is especially sad. Besides being libelous, it shows a complete inability to see Esslinger as anything other than some kind of political "god" who can do no wrong (beware of false idols, Kent). It also shows, as is the case here, that Monte was so consumed with his obsession for defending Esslinger that he either didn't thoroughly enough read what I wrote or is incapable of understanding it.

I could say more about it, but why bother? Like so many others, I'd rather just sit back and watch Monte not only continue putting his foot in his mouth, but see if he can't get the other one in there with it so it has some company. He certainly needs no help from me in accomplishing that.

July 24, 2007 12:39 PM  

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