Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Eminent Domain

This weekend, the area at Exit 150 known as "the truckstop" closed. It closed not of its own accord, but because the state took the property and forced the company to shut down.

The land was wanted so the state can reroute the interchange and make things work better there.

Many people, myself included, feel that simply closing the truckstop will help the interchange immensely. The state, however, has plans to spend $46.5 million on this intersection, creating a new road (and the county supervisors are drooling for development along this new route), and adding a round-about.

A film I saw recently about the interchange (sometimes being a journalist has its perks) indicates that by 2036, there will be issues with the round-about. It shows traffic having to stop and slow down in order to let others through. No one likes the round-about but the state is insisting on it. I think it will be a big snafu and ultimately something else to be fixed.

I have serious concerns about the state taking the truckstop. On the one hand, I have sat in those very long lines of traffic that back up on the interstate during rush hours. I know that the interchange, which intersects not just I-81 but also US 220 and US 11, is a headache for local drivers as well as travelers who simply want to get to Cracker Barrel and have dinner.

But the 7 acres the state has taken will be dormant, and the state isn't doing much mowing these days because of funding cutbacks. In 10 years, I look for this wasted acreage to be an overgrown tempest filled with stinky paradise trees, brush, and a homeless person or two. If the state doesn't keep it mowed and cleaned up, that is a likely scenario.

The county is losing revenue with the loss of the truck stop, also. It is not as much as people believe - I've seen some crazy figures tossed around on Facebook - but for a local government any sum can be the number that means closing a school or cutting back personnel or shutting down a library. Plus about 45 people lost jobs. On the one hand, 45 people in a county of 32,000 is not many, but on the other, the county is handing out dollars hand over fist to companies to locate in Greenfield who offer a similar small number of employment options.

I don't know how much other revenue will be lost during construction. This is a three-year project and I daresay travelers will venture on to other exits for meals and overnight stays. I would, if I knew the construction was going on. Sometimes you don't know until you're right on top of it and no one mentions it when you make reservations, though.

The interchange does need to be improved. But I don't know that the state is making the right moves, and I disagree with shutting down a business like it did, especially when it did not move the business but instead offered a financial pay-out. The truckstop provided a necessary service for truckers, who by federal law are required to have certain rest times. They also need to fuel up and eat.

So I am mixed on this decision. It is done now, and of course there is nothing I could have done about it anyway. But I do wonder about the thought processes of those who are in control.

5 comments:

  1. I see from some Facebook posts, the Truckers have already moved to area parking lots to spend the night. The lot where CVS used to be had several overnighters in there this morning. I'm sure it will remain a problem for times to come. I agree on the overgrown real estate. It will remain dormant I feel sure.

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  2. I can understand your mixed feelings. There is a multi-year improvement plan underway in my area. On one hand, it is a bad interchange and dangerous stretch of roads that needed improvement but on the other hand, traffic is temporarily worse than it was before, and it means loss of revenue for businesses along that stretch, with one closing in December and others brazening it out. Thankfully, there are no plans for a roundabout in these improvements, though there have been nightly lane/exit closures (and horrendous backups), spring through fall.

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  3. What is it about 'round abouts' !!?? Our city here, is talking about putting in a couple of round-abouts to help traffic. I feel as you do, that they will just cause more of a back-up. People don't understand how to use them - to enter one or to exit safely. It must be the new buzz-word that local governments have latched onto. I also have mixed feelings bout eminent domain issues. This is America. How can a government just move in and seize private property? It is just un-American!! Yikes!!

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  4. I dread when I have to go through that intersection but on the same hand, I feel for the truckers and the people losing their jobs...and the round-a-bout sounds like a nightmare....

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  5. I'm with you and have mixed feelings about the improvements at exit 150. I think that eliminating the truck traffic would have been a sufficient fix for the time being. Traffic circles work only as well as the people driving through them. I worry a little about this given how poorly people merge on and off the interstate. We'll be relying on everyone following the rules and you know how that goes.

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