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Opinion Column
For the week of June 21 through June 27, 2000

Confronting reality: worsening traffic can lead to big city-type road rage

Commentary by PAT MURPHY


Talk of solving traffic problems in the Wood River Valley is someone’s idea of a fantasy.

Wider roads and more traffic signals notwithstanding, traffic problems will worsen. The best that engineers can achieve is a system of roads and controls that make the driving experience survivable, if not tolerable.

Reasons for worse traffic seem obvious enough: more people with more vehicles will be using the limited amount of space available for roads and parking at the same time in the valley.

Even in metropolises with more space for roads than the Wood River Valley, traffic is horrendous, too much even for more and more freeways.

But traffic jams are hardly the worst part.

With more traffic comes that most insufferable creation of motorized modern America— impatient, rude drivers and their road rage.

Get ready.

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While on the subject of Valley growth, one devoutly hopes this sort of scene will remain forever as part of local culture.

Two bicyclists were stopped the other morning on the asphalt path along Sun Valley Road directly opposite the Sun Valley Lodge.

There, not more than two feet from them, was one of the legendary domesticated Sun Valley Lodge foxes, sitting in front of its hillside hole as calmly and unperturbed as a household pet, apparently taking in the oohing and aahing of the passersby with total aplomb and appreciation.

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Still on the subject of growth:

Darryl McMillen was musing the other night about when he was a pioneer architect in the valley in the early 1970s. Now he counts 85 architects in the area. And more than a dozen of them are graduates of his firm.

That’s what’s called creating your own competition.

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Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker probably deserves catcalls, boos and public denunciations as well as cutting comments from teammates for his hateful quotes in Sports Illustrated about minorities and gays.

But how come Rocker carries the whole burden of his conduct?

After all, Rocker wouldn’t be on the Braves payroll without the consent of team owner Ted Turner and executives, including Braves vice president Hank Aaron, a Hall of Famer and African American who inferentially was slurred by Rocker.

If Rocker remains on the team roster, then Braves management thereby must approve of his behavior, which fans should take into account next time they give Rocker the raspberry.

Which again illustrates why pro sports condone a loose code of conduct and rules of behavior for mega-rich players.

So long as players’ performances fill bleachers, there’s not much in the way of sleazy behavior that offends owners enough to fire them.


Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.

 

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