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3rd Avenue Irony
by Andrew White


March 02, 2005

In all honesty I have not kept up with all of the recent debate relating to usage of the Third Avenue Bypass. But many of the comments I have read and heard strike me with great irony.

Are tour buses really going to be excluded from the bypass? Just tour buses? I say, are any other commercial vehicles going to be banned from the bypass?

The very name - Third Avenue Bypass - is in direct correlation with its intended usage, right? Isn't the bypass intended to assist motorists in getting through a busy downtown area? Wasn't the bypass also constructed with the intention of reducing congestion in the downtown area?

Reducing congestion in the downtown area is certainly a noble idea. If all drivers, commercial or otherwise, who did not expressly need to drive through the downtown area used the bypass then the downtown roads would be safer for all. This would hold especially true for the pedestrian segment of our economy that is unfamiliar with our roadways, laws and driving practices.

I have driven commercial vehicles off and on since 1989. Folks, nothing scares a transportation business like pedestrians. Commercial transportation companies throughout the country regularly preach to their drivers to always watch for pedestrians -if in doubt, get out (and look). And, as a side note, I can t tell you how many times I have rolled into a truck stop to find emergency personnel tending to a truck driver who has been hit by a truck! I bring these thoughts to light because commercial vehicles should be directed away from congested areas whenever possible.

Most people do not understand the limitations of a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles, loaded or not, require greater stopping distances than other vehicles. Visibility around a commercial vehicle, from the driver's perspective, is far less than it is in your daddy's Oldsmobile. In short, the fewer pedestrians and other vehicles around commercial vehicles, the better off we all are.

The irony in all of this is that only some commercial vehicles (buses are commercial vehicles)will be banned from the Third Avenue Bypass. In reality Third Avenue should be open to all vehicles so the roadway can be used as intended. Any restrictions on commercial vehicles should be directed towards the downtown area during May 1st to September 30th. Restrictions of any kind should also be applied across the board, not targeted towards any one specific group of users.

To further this point, there are many municipalities that restrict commercial vehicle movement within their boundaries. One such city, Atlanta, GA, prohibits commercial vehicles within its bypass perimeter unless they are specifically engaged in commerce within the perimeter. This is purely to relieve congestion.

Ketchikan is certainly not Atlanta. The point is that our Council should be thinking along the lines of encouraging Third Avenue Bypass usage as a means to make the downtown area safer. Wouldn t the bypass be used more for its intended purpose if this were the case?

Andrew White
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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