The Willits freeway bypass funds at risk? Oh, boo-hoo-hoo.
Has the experience of thousands of small towns, hundreds of cities, tons of pollution, lungs full of poison, shortened lives, lost community and peace of mind, crime, speed and killing in hopped-up freeway toyland, i.e., America, finally trickled down to off-the-beaten-track Mendocino County so that Ft. Bragg, Ukiah and Point Arena won’t kneel in worship with our Willits city council’s deep love for Caltrans? They won’t give everything they have for a bypass? Tut.
Strange how we feel such breathless haste to completely destroy our lovely valley and the lives we’ve built in it. Something like lemmings scrambling and shuffling into the sea. An example for human life, lemmings aren’t. Trust me.
Obviously our Willits city fathers don’t want those nasty tourists clogging up our main street (so let’s forget about one of the town’s only means of income; yes, that’s good thinking; and tourist traffic has been clocked as 15% of the traffic and Caltrans will save us with a $150 million scar right up the last alluvial wetlands valley left in the state).
Councilman Lucier doesn’t want to “damage the possibility of ever constructing the bypass” — is that a cherished goal in somebody’s heart? It assumes, unthinkingly, such a monumental change to our lives, lands and futures is a good thing, like it never was in the places we left.
In fact, the freeway and the degradation it both represents and engenders would be tragic.
In bringing satirical attention to the hoodwinked city council who after all are just buying the big baloney America has eaten for 40 years, I am opposing first, that the freeway is a solution to anything that matters, and two, that the club of inevitability Caltrans uses on small towns is nothing but a bluff.
I can understand that citizens who are fed propaganda for two generations — if you want to be a virile, happy, powerful, free individual, it means a car driving fast on “your” freeway — will give up in the face of a big agency like Caltrans. You’re made to feel ashamed for all kinds of unconscious reasons dating back to youth. But we’re grown-ups. We’re big boys and girls.
Napa Valley residents, wine growers especially, rejected Caltrans’ pressures and bullying. They realized the tourist industry would wither if a freeway spread its concrete snake, taking up valuable land and scarring the valley’s whole lifestyle and purpose. They opposed the freeway. Napa Valley is booming. Their little secret? They knew that citizens with money want to go to interesting places, places that the people there treasure and protect. Interesting people get interested in communities that have integrity, and they spend money, and some of them move there and make the communities better and — are you listening? — richer.
As for our specific issue of the day, I know full well that Fort Bragg and Ukiah are grousing about sacrificing their funds to a “Willits” freeway project because it doesn’t pave their roads or line their pockets. Caltrans will get that extra $17.5 million somehow, don’t fret feint hearts.
Caltrans is run by the California Transportation Commission, a board made up entirely of mall, real estate, construction and tire interests. Do you doubt for a second what this pawn of auto, oil and big machinery will do to our home?
The two-lane truck route for $66 million was just the foot in the door. Caltrans doesn’t build truck routes. The freeway they have in mind rings up at $105 million, right through our valley, a fraudulent estimate because it ignores the eight-foot high roadbed to keep the road from sinking.
In a few years there will be sinkholes. How do we know? Caltrans drops its broken asphalt in the north valley; it sinks and disappears in a winter. Where would Caltrans get 220 acres of eight-foot high rock? By stripping the surrounding mountains and devastating the wildlife and watersheds.
And all land between a railroad and freeway becomes a slum, degraded land; that is an invariable law. The slang term is sprawl.
Stupidity and cowardice make for a poor common future. I would encourage my fellow citizens to throw off the illusions that auto and oil advertisements have so cleverly entwined and weakened them with.
Poisonous oxides increase exponentially under higher speeds. But the auto industry tells you that’s when cars become more efficient — efficient for the engine, not efficient for the water supply. Nor for tax base, businesses, lives, lands or children.
Business brought by freeway traffic amounts to a bunch of gas stations, casinos and franchise uglies.
It isn’t inevitable that we live like that, a way we cannot honor.