29 June 2008

They're finally catching on!

NOLA.com - Internet stokes flames of political scandals

Let it be known that Yours Truly stokes the flames on a regular basis. I posted about both Price's crash and the pay raise here.

Now that I'm done feeding my own ego...

It's about time the Internet got used to its full potential. Sure, the jokes are there that if there's a kink, there's porno for it floating around somewhere on the Net. Teenagers and losers alike use it for flaming people into the ground for no reason other than ego inflation. Now the politicians are starting to feel the flames of an entire pissed off populace. The people are beginning to mobilize on web forums, blogs and news sites, and DAMN, are they making themselves heard.

Times, they are a-changing...

23 June 2008

Harrison Co., MS: US 90 work on schedule

(Sorry, but I prefer the CA-style US Highway shield to the standard-issue one - T.)

Sun-Herald - Coast's Christmas gift may be a new US 90

A couple of days ago, I posted about MDOT putting new projects on ice due to high oil prices throwing a monkey wrench into the budget. I had pointed out then that ongoing projects were unaffected by the funding crisis so far, and good thing for that.

US 90 is being resurfaced for 27 miles in Harrison County, in four stages. Before Katrina, it could have used some work. I haven't driven US 90 since the storm, as the bridge between Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian was still under construction while I had a working car. Still, I can imagine the storm made things much worse.

It's slated to be complete in December, so there's only six more months to endure the delays. Fun... In all seriousness, though, it's necessary, and it's a good thing to see that this necessary project will continue on to completion. Even with the condition it used to be in, it was a sweet drive, both because of the scenery and the road design. The repairs will make it even sweeter.

Ascension Parish, LA: Bicyclist dies crossing Interstate

The Advocate - Bicyclist dies after being hit by car

Believe it or not, this behavior isn't totally unheard of down here. Sometimes you hear of it happening in the larger cities in the state, on foot. It's not as common as politicians getting into trouble, though, hence why it's important enough for the blog.

Obviously, if you've read some of my posts or seen my road pictures, you know that Yours Truly uses a bicycle to get around most of the time. In this day and age, it's cheaper. Four dollar gas has priced me out of driving. Still, I know better than to make a boneheaded move like that. You're not going to catch me trying to cross the Interstate on the actual Interstate. Riding on it with traffic... that's a different story, and only on sections where it's the sole route (Pearl River (past LA 41 Spur) to Picayune, MS for example - I-59 is the only game in town).

Looking on Google Maps, the area of I-10 where it intersects LA 73 (near Gonzales and Prairieville) is not one of those areas. The crossings are few, but they're within a few miles of one another, a distance easily covered even on the most in disrepair of bicycles. The bicyclist was at fault here. His first mistake was trying to cross the Interstate at that point in the first place. His second was trying to bicycle across the lanes. If you absolutely have to go across the Interstate's lanes, walking the bicycle across the roadbed (actually, running across the lanes with the bike) is faster.

All in all, while this was a tragic death, it was also a stupid and needless one.

21 June 2008

I took another bicycle trip and nearly died. Plus 52 snaps from three different cameras.

Today, I covered around 30 miles on a bicycle, taking snaps of one terminus each of LA 434 and LA 435 and both termini of LA 1088. A few of the LA 434 snaps catch some of the new monochrome shields in the wild. There are many other assorted highway shots along the way, as well as some unexpected railfan snaps from along the Tammany Trace and a few shots of buildings in Abita Springs. There's even one shot of a Clearview street sine in Mandeville.

As well, I almost died traversing LA 36 between LA 1088 and LA 59. And I got rained on. A lot. So you'd better like the snaps. Or I'll hurt you.

Anyway, the snaps are here.

Edit: They're also here if you have an aversion to Photobucket or something.

New Site Up!

Accueil des Darkangel de la Louisiane

I decided that for some things like fantasy exit lists and my itinerary, I needed something more than the blog, so I made a site specifically for my roadgeeking.

Also, in a few hours (assuming the weather looks okay), I'm taking the cameras and going on a little trip to snap up some of LA 1088, LA 36, LA 59 and more of the Tammany Trace. I need the exercise, so I'm taking the bike.

NOLA: St. Charles streetcar is back to full service

Times-Picayune - Uptown streetcars go the distance

Things may seem like they're falling apart. A lot of people haven't returned, and a lot of those that have still live with their homes in disrepair. The local Congressman's proving he's a typical Louisiana politician, and the Mayor's a bumbling idiot at times. Crime's out of control all over the area, so bad that the National Guard's tour in New Orleans has been extended yet again.

Still, it's the small things like this that give us a sense of hope in these dark times. The streetcars are an iconic part of New Orleans, and the fact that they're back helps us to believe that if they can come back, we can bring anything back.

We're starting to move forward now, we just need to keep it going. This is a large step indeed... but we've still so much farther to go. We can't let up now.

20 June 2008

Last entry of the day, I promise...

You'll probably notice I worked on my shield-making skills some. I also created a banner for the blog designed like a Big Green Sign.

Welcome to Exit Zero...

Edit: Thanks to Slater for the old-school broken green shield for the banner sine.

Mississippi: Oil prices may kill non-maintenence roadwork

Sun-Herald: Road building may hit dead end

This story just proves how much oil prices are throwing everything into chaos these days. In this case, the costs of building new roads is becoming too prohibitive. Because of this, widening projects on MS 26, MS 43, US 11 and MS 603 are being delayed or are otherwise in jeopardy. I've driven parts of all four of those (albeit pre-Katrina), and they could use some work, indeed.

The MS 57 widening, the Vancleave bypass and the first phase of a connector from I-10 to downtown Gulfport aren't being axed, since they already have the funding in place. Only new roads and widenings seem to be threatened with the axe at the moment.

If it's happening there, how long will it take for other states to feel the crunch and have to belt-tighten?

News on Interstate 69 Louisiana Segment

(Note: I did NOT steal the shield picture from AARoads, I just learned how to use lighting effects in the GIMP to replicate their effect.)

Shreveport Times: Louisiana route narrowed but cloudy

So, the announcement that Texas is going to use existing highways for IH 69 does kind of affect where it's going to run through Louisiana, or if it's going to run through the state at all. Right now, the strongest possibility is that it's going to run along US 59 in Texas, up to the junction with US 84 and US 96 in Teneha, and from there east to Logansport generally along US 84, running into Louisiana and angling northeast toward Arkansas along entirely new roads.

Another idea takes IH 69 from Teneha north along US 59 all the way to IH 30 near Texarkana, bypassing Louisiana entirely. In my opinion, this is the bad idea.

Some plans have the TTC (Trans-Texas Corridor) still in the works, just in a different form, using US 59 northward from Teneha as IH 69 takes the path to the east. I have no opinion on this, other than that IH 69 needs to come into Louisiana. Northern Louisiana badly needs the development another Interstate would bring.

Rant: An Open Letter to the Idiots Running Louisiana

*cracks knuckles*

To the Legislature:
What the hell are you people thinking? Are you smoking crack or something, you idiots? I'm betting with the raise you people just gave yourselves, you could probably afford a LOT of it.

The roads are in as poor a shape as ever, vital employees like teachers, firefighters and police officers are getting shafted in terms of pay, the coastline is continuing to be claimed by the Gulf, New Orleans still has crap for hurricane protection, a lot of Katrina refugees are still waiting to clear Road Home red tape and the economy is collapsing like a Minnesota bridge, and yet you idiots go and vote yourself a pay raise to DOUBLE your pay for essentially a part-time job?

I've heard the rationale, time to come in with my verbal Walther P38 and blow some holes in all of it.

First off, you're not getting paid enough. BULL! The pay is plenty enough for what it is, a part-time job... and the per diem you get paid isn't even counted in. Basically, you don't have to pay your own way while the Legislature is in session. Not to mention that the lobbyists can come in, even with the new limits, and wine and dine you until even your souls and dignity are forfeit. You idiots get so many perks that the salary doesn't matter. If I got a per diem and could eat on the lobbyists' dime, I'd do the damned job for free! As if power and perks aren't enough, you need more money too? Screw that. Go get real jobs if you're hurting for cash. Or propose a more moderate raise, or tie the CURRENT salaries to Congressional pay or the Consumer Price Index.

Second, you want to lure in more qualified candidates to run for office. Considering the amount of nepotism and providing for friends on the public dime, what it basically means is that you want to hook them up even more. If it's not family, it's friends, and if it's not friends, it's people you groom to take over from you. Aside from that, public service is supposed to be about public service, not fattening your damn wallets!

Third, other states pay their legislators and senators (or equivalents) more, why shouldn't we? Because, again, you're only working part time. We're not Texas. We're not California. You're not in session all the time like Congress. Next time you want to say "...well, other states pay more..." look at the damn workload first!

In short, I hope you enjoy these raises you voted for yourselves, and in the meantime, I suggest you update your resumes. You're going to need to look for work when all the enraged voters throw you all out on your asses.

And to those of you who voted against this asinine bill and refused to take the raise, thank you! Thank you for showing that at least a couple of you have some capability to do the right thing and listen to the people that sent you to Baton Rouge in the first place.

To Gov'nuh Bobby:
Shame on you, you lying spineless COWARD! I see the stories, you're saying the Legislature's screwing up, that they're making a mistake, yet you refuse to veto that mistake? You, sir, are an idiot. They'll be laughing all the way to the bank, not feeling remorse or anything. You promised us when you got elected that you would stamp out crap like this! You're going to be just like Blanco, a one-term failure. Unlike Blanco, though, your hugest blunder will be all on you. You can't blame the feds, FEMA, ICF or Mother Nature for this one.

Better take McCain's veep slot now while you still have some sort of political future, because like the legislators, the voters are going to toss you out on your ass as well.

New Orleans: Takes a cop's death to fix a broken drawbridge...

WWL-AM/FM (New Orleans, LA): Malfunctioning safety barrier to be replaced at Claiborne Bridge

This is the same bridge where, last month, a NOPD officer drove off into the water when a barrier failed to lower into place. Apparently the project was in the works already, but the death of one of NOLA's Finest caused things to get fast-tracked. It's just another example of Business As Usual as far as any sort of improvements or repairs go on the roads of Southern Louisiana... somebody has to die before they'll fix a drawbridge, put up a stop sign/traffic light, or build an alternate to a shoddy primary route. And if it's someone important like a cop or some yuppie, they'll go out of their way to do it yesterday.

It's always the same when it comes to public works around here, no matter the parish. I'll spare you the stories of the four-way intersection where my aunt totaled several luxury cars, or the "T" intersection of two highways, governed only by a stop sine for the terminating highway, that was one of my drug-addict cousin's favorite launching pads. Today the four-way is a four-way stop (with table-sized stop sines in all directions) and the "T" intersection has a stoplight. It took someone important dying at both of those intersections for something to be done at either one. Seems like LaDOTD can't be proactive even to save someone's life around here.

The Claiborne Bridge is just another case of this. It's been in disrepair for over a decade, and the only thing that was done was limiting the amount the state could be sued for over a broken safety device on a road, such as a drawbridge barrier. Go figure. Yeah, that really helps matters. What they should have done in the first place was fix it instead of legislatively saving their asses. Maybe then they wouldn't get sued!

Georgia: Fuel surcharge to be added to speeding tickets

Holly Springs, GA (USA Today): Speeders to pay extra for police fuel

Gas prices continue to spiral upwards, now past the $4 mark all over the country, over $5 in some places, and diesel's no better at this point. It's affecting everybody from suburbanites, to delivery drivers, to truckers... all commuters, really... and of course, it's affecting the police as well. So, if you're planning to be in Holly Springs, please do slow down some. Not only will it help your gas costs, but it'll also save you the $12 fuel surcharge being added to your ticket. Same goes for any moving violation in the suburb.

Actually, this is the harbinger to a trend. Atlanta's looking into adding a $10-15 surcharge of their own (it only awaits the Mayor's OK), and other municipalities are looking to copy the ordinance for themselves.

It's to be expected, really. Everyone gets hit by gas costs. So slow it down, not just to save yourself some cash in these dire times, but to prevent yourself from having to cover the cop that stopped you as well.

05 June 2008

Ohio: She got a designated driver, alright...

WLWT-TV: Woman accused of being drunk, letting toddler drive

Here's some Grade A stupidity for you, my loyal pair of readers. This woman goes and drives drunk. Smart idea - have a designated driver. STUPID idea - have a ONE-YEAR OLD as your designated driver! She sat the toddler in her lap and let him steer the car. To add to her credentials for her Darwin Award, she had her five and eight-year olds in the car as well.

Even more amazing is that this arrest is her third for DUI in six years, and she was still under suspension when pulled over this time.

Her excuse? She was "only going a couple of blocks to return some DVDs to a neighbor." I guess her alcohol-destroyed brain can't process that you're better off walking only a couple of blocks anyway, even while sober but ESPECIALLY when loaded!

Put all these things together, and you get someone who should probably be barred from being anywhere near a car for the rest of her life.

This post has been crossposted to The WTF Files, a brand new blog focusing exclusively on stupidity, compiled by Yours Truly. It is there because of the stupidity, and here because it involved driving.

Independence, LA: 2 dead in car/train collision

The Advocate: Amtrak train in 2 collisions; 2 die, 1 hurt

I'll spare you the gory excerpt from the story, just go read it. The fatal collision occurred at a private crossing. It was marked by cross bucks and a yield sign. I saw nothing mentioned about a barrier, though. (Edit: Found here that there were indeed no lights or barriers at the crossing in Louisiana. - T) The train was attempting to signal the car with its whistle, to no avail. Over the past few years, if there's one thing drivers in Tangipahoa have proven, it's that they have no clue how to stop at a railroad crossing unless you add barriers of some sort to the mix.

There was also a wreck beforehand involving the same train, up near McComb, MS. That one yielded a non-fatal injury. It didn't say in the story what condition that crossing was in. (Edit: There are stop signs at the Mississippi crossing in question. - T) There's no word out of McComb yet and the stories out of Baton Rouge and New Orleans say little about that one other than the injury, so I won't assume that one was due to driver negligence until I know for sure.

The same train route was also involved in a collision near Jackson, MS last week with a garbage truck, hospitalizing six.

It's obvious that Louisiana needs to redouble its efforts to educate the driving public about railroad crossings. It wouldn't hurt Mississippi, either. Also, both states need to look into these crossings and improve them where necessary. You can't count on people to resist the temptation to beat the trains. Obviously cross bucks and yield signs aren't enough, even at these rural crossings. What's obviously needed is something to catch the driver's attention even more, like flashing lights and barriers.

Until then, many more people will die at these crossings. For some, it will be due to their own idiocy.

04 June 2008

A little old, but still... Just Plain Wrong!

You guessed it... this video is Just Plain Wrong!

...I mean, seriously, what are those two dumbasses doing driving along freeways in Georgia, anyway? :P

03 June 2008

Fantasy: Interstate 512 (Louisiana)

Apparently the neighbors have been checking up on a project. You see, there's an interchange in the works for LA 1088 and I-12, which is within walking distance from my house. It is supposed to be accompanied by LA 3241, which is meant to be a connector from I-12 to Bogalusa. My house will be safe. Sadly, so will my aunt's place.

Anyway, that got my brain turning. If this highway does its job, it'll spur growth in Washington Parish. Why not skip ahead and connect Washington Parish to the Interstate System? That's where this fantasy rundown comes in.

Exit list runs from south to north as you scroll down. Exits are mileage-based, but are estimates only. Sadly, between the NIMBYs and environmentalists, this will likely remain only fantasy. Ah, well. Strap in.

Exit 69, I-12: I-512 North to Bogalusa
Complex is a trumpet interchange
I-512 begins/ends at interchange
(Southbound only, 2 lanes): Mainline defaults on to I-12 West to Hammond
1A (Southbound only, 1 lane, left exit): I-12 East To I-10 and I-59, to Slidell

1B (Southbound, 2 lane exit): LA 1088 West to Mandeville
Partial Y-interchange
No access to SB I-512 from EB LA 1088
No access to WB LA 1088 from NB I-512
LA 1088 begins/ends at interchange
(Exits 1A and 1B will exist within a mile of each other)

3: Fish Hatchery Road to LA 1093-1, Lacombe
Compact diamond interchange
Contingent on paving of Fish Hatchery

5: LA 36 to Abita Springs, Pearl River
Compact diamond interchange
Current northern terminus of LA 1088, intersection exists at-grade

9: LA 435 to Abita Springs, Talisheek
Diamond interchange
NB LA 41 accesses SB I-512 here via LA 435

10: LA 41 South To LA 435 to Pearl River, Talisheek, Abita Springs
Partial Y interchange
No access from NB LA 41 to SB I-512
LA 41 begins/ends at interchange

13A: LA 40 West (NB: LA 40 West To LA 21) to Bush, Folsom (Covington)
Diamond interchange
NB LA 21 accesses SB I-512 here via LA 40
NB I-512 accesses SB LA 21 here via LA 40
LA 40 begins/ends at interchange

13B (Southbound): LA 21 South to Covington
Compact Y interchange
No access from NB LA 21 to SB I-512
No access from NB I-512 to SB LA 21
LA 21 enters multiplex with I-512 northbound
Current northern terminus of LA 41

15: LA 16 West to Sun
Diamond interchange on south side
Texas-style interchange using slip ramps to/from frontage roads on north side
Frontage roads begin northbound/end southbound
LA 16 begins/ends at interchange

--Washington/St. Tammany parish line--

18: LA 1075 North to Bogalusa
Texas-style interchange using slip ramps to/from frontage roads
LA 1075 begins/ends at interchange

24: LA 3124 North to Downtown Bogalusa
Diamond interchange
Frontage roads end northbound/begin southbound
I-512 begins/ends at interchange
LA 3124 begins/ends at interchange
Northbound defaults to LA 21 to Bogalusa
LA 21 enters multiplex with I-512 southbound

Rant: I-49 South Extension

I have a gripe with this. Specifically, the southern extension from Lafayette to New Orleans. I don't disagree with the need for the upgrade of US 90 between those two points to Interstate standards - those parts of Southern Louisiana are languishing, in part due to being so far away from an Interstate. No... I disagree with the number for it.

Extending I-49 south and east along that route would create a numbering violation, since I-49's "southern" terminus would be east of I-55. Also, it would be confusing, direction-wise. I-49 northbound would start by traveling SOUTH! If they tried a Michigan solution (something like I-69 going from signed N-S to signed W-E), then the exit numbering would go backwards, increasing as you go west.

I don't take credit for the number it should be, but I do take credit for the sine.

My solution?

There's some good reasons why I-49's southern extension should be I-6. First off, it would fit nicely in the grid. It would exist wholly south of I-10. Latitude-wise, it would exist between I-8 and I-4. The small jog back westbound (assuming US 90 Business (Westbank/NO)/I-910 was used) would be nowhere near as confusing as the long southwesterly jog down to Houma and Morgan City before taking a northerly slant to Lafayette. The exit numbering could then run in a conventional direction, from west terminus to east terminus. As well, there is precedent for two Interstates in Louisiana sharing a terminus. I-12 and I-59 share a common terminus in Slidell. So too could I-49 and I-6. The fact that the two Interstates would be on the mainline going north-south through the cloverleaf that is I-49's current southern terminus means one wouldn't have to weave to "stay on the Interstate."

So in conclusion, down with I-49 South. Long live Interstate 6!

02 June 2008

The End Of An Era

Say goodbye to this...

...It's changed to this. (Note: Below shield is a mockup ONLY!)

Why? Louisiana is ditching the green and white sines for black and white sines.

Their reason? Because green ink costs too much. Makes me wonder if Governor Bobby finally put LADOTD on a diet.

It might place Louisiana's highway guide sines in line with the FHWA standard, but it's still a sad day. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and snatch up one of those sines before they're gone.