survey, environment, Government, Lee's `Survey' page.

*****

Copyrite `98.

SURVEY SAYS
A composite of the replies to letters that I have sent.

  • Re: REST AREAS

  • Re: ELECTRIC CARS

    *****

    REST AREAS

    An accumulation of the replies to the letter that I sent to the Premiers of the Provinces
    and the Governors of the states
    requesting additional sleep areas along the highways of North America.

  • SURVEY SAYS (Article cataloguing the replies to my letter)
  • LETTER to the PROVINCIAL PREMIERS
  • LETTER to the STATE GOVERNORS (Identical to the letter to the Premiers except for change of title)
  • LETTER to the PRESIDENT of the U. S. A.
  • ADDRESSES for GOVERNMENT OFFICES

    SURVEY SAYS

    copywrite `99 Oct.

    Last year while trucking across North America I crossed the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans approximately three times per month. As well I traveled as far South as Ft. Lauderdale Florida and as far North as Ft. McMurray, Alberta.

    Many times, during my travels, I found myself looking for a place, to sleep for the night, or to have an afternoon nap. As any long haul trucker knows, night is not necessarily at night nor is a mid shift nap in the middle of the day. As you drive for five hours, take a break, and drive for another five hours before calling it a day, the end of the day often comes at two in the afternoon by a normal human's clock.

    Whether it was three in the afternoon or three in the morning it was hard to find a rest area when I needed one and often when I did find one it would be so full that there was not even room to park along the side of the entrance, or exit, roads. Consequently I wrote a letter (copy enclosed) to the Premiers of the Western Provinces and the Governors of the Western States asking for them to build more areas, not rest areas, where drivers could park to sleep.

    I received a reply from the State of Oregon and forwarded it, along with a copy of my original letter, to the President of the U. S. A.

    Of the four replies I received from the Provincial Governments of Canada, and the eight replies I received from state officials, only three were written by the people I had sent them to. Premier Michael Harris of the Province of Ontario, Premier Roy Romanow of the Province of Saskatchewan, and Governor George Bush of the State of Texas replied, thanking me for my letter. Mr. Romanow and Mr. Bush then forwarded my letter to the person in charge of highways for their political jurisdiction.

    As political leaders never open their own mail I can only assume that government officials who didn't answer never received my letter. Said letters may have been routed to the round file or possibly they never reached the legislative buildings I had sent them to.

    As most of my letters were replied to by Government officials who seldom drive I was not surprised to receive stock, political, non committal answers though to be fair, several of them, such as Chief Gary Bush of the Office of State Landscape Architecture for the State of California, did say that my suggestions would be considered during future planning.

    I was trying to address the issue of insufficient sleeping areas for drivers. As most politicians are city dwellers, many of whom have chauffeurs, it is difficult to describe to them the danger of a driver who is behind the wheel and unable to keep his eyes open. With their mind set on log books and picturesque road side rest areas, that cost mega dollars to build, it is hard to show them that logs books do little to prevent accidents and numerous, smaller stopping areas with fewer facilities would cost less to build and save more lives.

    Mr. Zane Webb, Director of the Maintenance Division of Texas Highways replied that his department is closing some of the rest areas that are currently too small to serve the public and replacing them with newer and larger facilities but are remodeling the old ones for truck and RV parking.

    This is exactly one of the things I suggested in my original letter. How many times have I seen rest areas that are closed? Many of them for repair but some of them permanently. With the shortage of spaces to sleep, an area should never be closed. The fact that the bathroom may not be working or the phone isn't connected is immaterial. Though they are nice, a driver does not always need facilities.

    Another place that I constantly see closed is weigh scales. The one place that should be open because it has a large parking lot, yet many of them are even gated to keep vehicles out.

    The purpose of a scale is to see if a vehicle is properly balanced for safe braking, yet even if the scale grounds are open the scale is often turned off. If a trucker has just loaded in a nearby town he can't pull in, weigh himself, balance his load, and get some sleep before he begins his journey.

    I guess the government would rather have the vehicle rolling down the road illegally with a tired driver behind the wheel.

    When a driver, be it of a car or a semi, is fighting to keep his eyes open the only thing he needs is a place that is level and solid enough so that he doesn't get stuck if it rains.

    I mention level because a poor sleep is not a lot better than no sleep and how many times have I found a space in a rest area but can't get my truck level. I realize in mountainous country it is hard to build a level parking lot but if you want to experience an uncomfortable sleep, try putting a brick under one leg of your bed.

    Several of the replies I received, such as that from Allan Abbot, Director-State Engineer for the State of Nebraska, stated that small, frequent turnouts would be hazardous because the on and off ramps would be too short and not consistent with the rules set out by the Federal Government which regulates the interstate highway system. My reply from the State of Oregon was the first I received telling me of this which is why I forwarded it to the President of the U. S. of A. I explained to him that in this day and age vehicles have much larger motors, more efficient braking systems, and travel at lower speeds because of the new era of speed laws, and, therefore, do not require the lengthy on or off ramps that vehicles needed years ago. To this date I have not received a reply from the Oval Office.

    Though it is much safer and certainly more comfortable to have long on/off ramps, I notice, however that very few weigh scales, with their short deceleration and acceleration lanes, meet the requirements. In fact in British Columbia and in Manitoba some weigh scales are in the middle of the freeway. Trucks have to exit and re-enter the highway via the passing lane.

    I drove so many highways last year that I don't remember what state I was in but they do have exactly what I have proposed to the various governments. They call them parking or sleeping areas rather than rest areas. Just paved areas with signs giving sufficient notice. No facilities other than waste receptacles. In North Eastern California you will find similar areas, though they are not paved, but they are not signed, which is bad because a driver can pass them before he knows they are there.

    Some of the replies to my letter, turned down my suggestion of more and smaller, unserviced rest areas on the grounds that they would still require attendance of sanitation trucks to collect garbage from containers. They state that if refuse containers aren't put in place drivers will just dump their waste on the ground.

    This is a valid point but governments such as the province of B. C. who can spend two hundred seventy thousand dollars on a mini van with a photo radar camera could use the cost of just one of those vehicles to purchase a small garbage truck, thirty trash receptacles, and hire two employees. The police officer could generate the lost revenue by issuing tickets for littering and the additional sleep areas would save far more lives than the tickets he would have handed out for speeding.

    M.L.A. Harry Lali Minister of Highways for the Province of B. C. stated that his ministry encourages the private sector to provide rest area services. This feeling is echoed by several of the officials that replied to my letter.

    However, asking the private sector to take over the responsibilities of the government is generally more expensive. The private sector works on a profit bases. If they are going to purchase land that is not going to create revenue then they are going to want government assistance to do so. And they are going to want more than what it costs them.

    I have, on occasion, used private facilities when I can find no other place to park. However, I always feel guilty when I park in a commercial lot if all I am looking for is a place to sleep. If I don't buy fuel from them, or eat in their restaurants, why should I tie up one of their parking spaces that may be used by a paying customer.

    Gene Roccabruna Director of the Department of Transportation for the State of Wyoming, stated that they are currently spending their budget on widening and upgrading the shoulders of their highways. I had noticed this while traveling the highways of Wyoming and it is one of the reasons that I wrote my letter. Governments can save money and build more sleep areas by combing such projects. Improvement of shoulders and construction of sleeping areas at the same time.

    As I stated in my letter there are often areas where old highway has been passed with new highway. If the old highway is left connected to the new highway there are two lanes of road that are of hard surface. One lane can be a thru lane and the other lane can be a sleeping area at no additional cost or construction.

    John Quick, Engineer for Transportation Planning in the State of Utah said that, though their emphasis is, as is that of most governments, still on large rest areas with lawns and flowers every sixty miles, they will take my ideas, of smaller sleep areas every ten miles, into consideration for future upgrading.

    While restrooms, and picnic tables are fine for the Sunday driver these are not the people who are going to fall asleep behind the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. While they are home in their level beds the travelling salesman is using toothpicks to hold his eyelids open while he tries to make it that last twenty miles to a rest area that has a full parking lot.

    A lot of rest areas restrict truck parking to eight hours but if there was a large unserviced area just another five miles down the road the service area could restrict truck parking to thirty minutes giving the traveler time to use the facilities then move on leaving the facilitied area for the next driver and catching his sleep in an inexpensive parking lot.

    A wide spot on the side of the road with a one mile warning sign that says, `Sleep Area, one rig, two RV's, 1 mile' will do more to keep a driver from crossing the median and running into that early morning school bus than will all the rumble strips and logs books ever designed.

    In conclusion I would suggest, that if any of you are in agreement with my aims, to establish more sleeping areas along our highways without incurring higher taxes, write to the Premier of the province(s), or the Governor of the state(s) that you drive in. some of their addresses are at the bottom of this page.

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    LETTER to the PROVINCIAL PREMIERS

    Dear Sir

    As you drive the highways and byways of your beautiful province you notice the trucks and the motor homes parked along side the roads leading into and out of rest areas. This is not to say that the rest areas are too small but indicates that there are too few rest areas.

    I know your first inclination is to say that it cost too much to build more rest areas and you would be right if all rest areas required landscaping, rest rooms, picnic areas, etc. However a trucker or motor home does not require any luxuries. Only the basics are needed.

    Fairly level ground, a solid surface so vehicles won't get stuck when it rains, good visibility to find a break in the traffic to get back on the road, an advance sign so the driver has time to slow down to find the entrance in the night.

    That's it. Cheap and simple. Build lots of them. Nothing is harder on a driver than that last ten miles to the next rest area.

    When driving late at night a driver will see a sign that says rest area 1 mile. Next rest area 30 miles. He thinks, "I'm OK. I can make it to that next one. It's only half an hour".

    Now the psychology comes into play. That thirty miles becomes three hundred. That half hour become five hours. You start wishing you had stopped at that last rest area. You start slapping your face to stay awake.

    A turn out need only be large enough for one truck. It only has to get the vehicle off the shoulder of the road. It doesn't have to have a paved street that takes you away from the sound of the traffic. All it needs is a short lead in with a warning sign. `One truck rest 1/2 mile'.

    A cheap and handy idea is old road. Wherever new road has been built on corners or hills the old road is already paved and is two lanes wide allowing for one lane of parking and one of thru traffic.

    In many places along Hwy. 1 in Saskatchewan, and Hwy. 95 in California, the shoulder has been expanded ten or twenty feet. Works excellently.

    Another area, especially in cities, yes drivers get over tired in cities too, where land is expensive, is within the loop of an on or off ramp of a cloverleaf. By leveling the land you could park four or five vehicles with an egress into the cloverleaf rather than the main stream of traffic.

    In off highway logging the compensation board requires a turn out every quarter of a mile so that small vehicles can get out of the way of big trucks. I am not suggesting that you make a turn out every half mile but certainly a one or two truck turnout every two or three miles would do far more to prevent accidents because of overtired drivers than logs books will ever accomplish.

    When a driver is tired and pulls into a rest area and that area is full, there is no way that he can make it thirty miles to the next one. But a small gravel spot on the side of the freeway a mile away could save a life.

    Yours truly

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    LETTER to the STATE GOVERNORS

    Dear Mr. Governor

    As you drive the highways and byways of your beautiful state you notice the trucks and the motor homes parked along side the roads leading into and out of rest areas. This is not to say that the rest areas are too small but indicates that there are too few rest areas.

    I know your first inclination is to say that it cost too much to build more rest areas and you would be right if all rest areas required landscaping, rest rooms, picnic areas, etc. However a trucker or motor home does not require any luxuries. Only the basics are needed.

    Fairly level ground, a solid surface so vehicles won't get stuck when it rains, good visibility to find a break in the traffic to get back on the road, an advance sign so the driver has time to slow down to find the entrance in the night.

    That's it. Cheap and simple. Build lots of them. Nothing is harder on a driver than that last ten miles to the next rest area.

    When driving late at night a driver will see a sign that says rest area 1 mile. Next rest area 30 miles. He thinks, "I'm OK. I can make it to that next one. It's only half an hour".

    Now the psychology comes into play. That thirty miles becomes three hundred. That half hour become five hours. You start wishing you had stopped at that last rest area. You start slapping your face to stay awake.

    A turn out need only be large enough for one truck. It only has to get the vehicle off the shoulder of the road. It doesn't have to have a paved street that takes you away from the sound of the traffic. All it needs is a short lead in with a warning sign. `One truck rest 1/2 mile'.

    A cheap and handy idea is old road. Wherever new road has been build on corners or hills the old road is already paved and is two lanes wide allowing for one lane of parking and one of thru traffic.

    In many places along Hwy. 95 in California, and Hwy 1 in Saskatchewan, the shoulder has been expanded ten or twenty feet. Works excellently. Another area, especially in cities, yes, drivers get tired in cities too, where land is expensive, is within the loop of an on or off ramp of a cloverleaf. By leveling the land you could park four or five vehicles with an egress into the cloverleaf rather than the main stream of traffic.

    In off-highway logging the compensation board requires a turn out every quarter of a mile so that small vehicles can get out of the way of big trucks. I am not suggesting that you make a turn out every half mile but certainly a one or two truck turnout every two or three miles would do far more to prevent accidents because of overtired drivers than logs books will ever accomplish.

    When a driver is tired and pulls into a rest area and that area is full, there is no way that he can make it thirty miles to the next one. But a small gravel spot on the side of the freeway a mile away could save a life.

    Yours truly

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    LETTER to the PRESIDENT of the U. S. A.

    The President

    U. S. of A.

    Dear Mr. President

    Recently I wrote a letter to the premiers of the western provinces of Canada and to the Governors of the Western States. (copy enclosed)

    Yesterday I received a reply from the State of Oregon. (enclosed).

    With these two letters in mind I would like to draw your attention to the rules that Miss Morrison has spoken of.

    I fully agree that there has to be some control over entrance and exit to freeways but I am sure the rules she refers to were designed years ago when freeways had much higher, and often unlimited, speed limits and when vehicles had slower rates of acceleration and deceleration.

    In this day and age when freeways usually have the same lower speeds as most side roads, combined with the fact that most newer cars and large vehicles, including tractor trailer units, have much more powerful, engines and braking systems, the entrance and exit of vehicles does not require as long an acceleration and deceleration lane.

    With this in mind the entrance or exit of vehicles at points other than cloverleafs will not cause a great inconvenience to other traffic other than the fact that they may have to move from the slow lane to the fast lane, which for some reason is where they all seem to travel anyway. Such a minor inconvenience can hardly outweigh the number of lives that could be saved by increasing the number of rest areas.

    With this in mind I urge you to restructure the rules governing entrance and exit of freeways.

    Yours truly

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    ADDRESSES for GOVERNMENT OFFICES

    CANADA

    ALBERTA

    The Honourable Ralph Klein Premier 420 Legislature Bldg. Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6

    Mr. Walter Paszkowski Minister of Transportation and Highways 420 Legislature Bldg. Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6

    BRITISH COLUMBIA

    The Honourable Gordon Campbell Premier Legislative Bldgs. Victoria, B. C. V8V 1X4

    Mr. Harry S. Lali Minister of Transportation and Highways Legislative Bldgs. Victoria, B. C. V8V 1X4

    MANITOBA

    The Honourable Gary Filmon Premier Legislative Bldgs. Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C OV8

    Mr. Glen M. Findlay Minister of Transportation and Highways Rm 203 Legislative Bldgs. Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C OV8

    ONTARIO

    The Honourable Michael D. Harris Premier Legislative Bldgs. Queen's Park Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

    SASKATCHEWAN

    The Honourable Roy Romanow Premier Legislative Bldgs. Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0B3

    Mrs. Judy Bradley Minister Highways and Transportation Legislative Bldgs. Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0B3

    Mr. Lorne Scott Minister of Environment and Resource Management Legislative Bldgs. Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0B3

    UNITED STATES of AMERICA

    ALASKA

    Governor Tony Knowles 3132 Channel Dr. Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898

    Mr. Joseph L. Perkins Commissioner Dept. of Transportation and Public Facilities 3132 Channel Dr. Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898

    CALIFORNIA

    Governor Pete Wilson State of California Sacramento, California 94274-0001

    Mr. Gary W. Bush Design and Local Programs Box 942874 Mail Stn. 28 Sacramento, California 94274-0001

    NEBRASKA

    Governor E. Benjamin Nelson Lincoln, Nebraska

    Mr. Allan L. Abbott Director-State Engineer Box 94759 Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4759

    NEW MEXICO

    Governor Gary E. Johnson Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Mr. Benny Roybal Deputy Secretary for Highway Operations

    Steve Rodriguez State Maintenance and Traffic Services

    TEXAS

    Governor George W. Bush Box 12428 Austin, Texas 78711

    Mr. Zane Webb Director Maintenance Division 125 11 St. E. Austin, Texas 78701-2483

    Mr. Colby Chase Transport Commission 125 11 St. E. Austin, Texas 78701-2483

    UTAH

    Governor Michael O. Leavitt Salt Lake City, Utah 84119

    Mr. John L. Quick Engineer for Transportation Planning 4501 South 2700 West Salt Lake City, Utah 84119-5998

    WYOMING

    Governor Jim Geringer Cheyenne, Wyoming 82003

    Mr. Gene Roccabruna Director Department of Transportation Box 1708 Cheyenne, Wyoming 82003

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    ELECTRIC CARS

    An accumulation of the replies to the letter that I sent to the mayors of cities in Canada.

    Copyrite `01.

    by

    LEE A. WOOD

    This summer I sent the following letter to the mayors of nearly 30 cities across Canada urging them to try using electric cars and pickups in their city departments to decrease costs and air pollution.

    *****

    Honourable Mayor

    Dear Sir

    In this day and age when everyone is worried about the environment and lowering taxes, I fail to understand why cities are still buying, and using, gas powered vehicles.

    For the past two years now, Ford and GM have been selling all electric vehicles.

    Granted these vehicles are limited in size and in range but they are ideal for use by meter maids, curb trash picker uppers, etc. Anywhere that you are presently using small vehicles that return to the office at the end of every shift where they can be plugged in for charging, ready for the next day.

    No pollution. Little or no maintenance. Imagine the campaign trail you can blaze in the next election, telling the electorate how you have helped save the environment and reduced the budget in your city.

    Yours truly

    *****

    To date I have received 12 replies:

  • Brandon - Mayor Reg Atkinson
  • Edmonton - Mayor Bill Smith
  • Montreal - Mayor Pierre Bourque
  • North Vancouver - Mayor Barbara Sharp
  • District of North Vancouver - Mayor Don Bell
  • Prince George - Mayor Colin Kinsley
  • Red Deer (E Mail) - Office of Mayor Surkan
  • Regia - Mayor Pat Fiacco
  • Richmond - Acting Mayor Lyn Greenhill
  • Winnipeg - Mayor Glen Murray

    The above thanked me for my suggestions and said that they would be passed along to the various departments in charge of purchasing.

  • Victoria - Mayor Alan Lowe passed my letter on to his manager of the Dept. of Water and Environment. Mr ken Silvester replied, Gas powered vehicles are still the most economic as the all electric are still very expensive and have yet to prove themselves in adverse weather conditions.'

    The city of Victoria is presently converting everything it can to natural gas but will continue to watch the development of electric powered vehicles.

  • Vancouver - Mayor Philip Owen replied to my letter saying that Vancouver has tried electric vehicles but that as they are only good for a one shift charge they are impractical as the present vehicles must be double shifted.

    He further stated that electric vehicles even had trouble running on one shift because they have to run amber warning lights, and other equipment, which are a steady drain on the power supply. In addition, the batteries for these vehicles are expensive and not environmentally safe for disposal.

    Mayor Owen further stated that the city is continuing to test alternative fuel vehicles and is currently awaiting the availability, in Canada, of Ford's new electric cars and electric/pedal bicycles.

    END

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