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Opinion column: Get over the overpass

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 29th, 2014

I had a friend once who would constantly forget what he was doing. Well, check that. It wasn’t that he forgot what. He’d more forget why.

Back in college, he would swear he’d never leave another research paper for the last second.

“It’s too stressful pulling an all-nighter right before it’s due,” he said. “This time, I’m going to start it at least two weeks beforehand.”

Sure enough, two weeks before the dreaded due date, he’d hunker down and get started. Being good friends who knew his ways all too well, we were more than happy to provide distractions. It wasn’t hard – he was like a moth to an incandescent light bulb.

“The big game is on! You gotta come watch!”

“Hey, we’re all going to grab some beers. Wanna come?”

“Hey, man, I need a Call of Duty partner in zombies. Don’t let me down.”

He barely protested, and, even if he did, he’d cave easily.

“I still have plenty of time to finish this,” he’d say.

And, two weeks after he put his mind to starting that paper, he’d stay up all night right before the paper was due.

It was more than just a guy who couldn’t say no, although that certainly played a role. It was the lack of urgency, the forgetting of why he shouldn’t leave his papers till the last second.

This is human nature. Remember how angry and scared people were after 9/11? They had a purpose, and they were willing to support anything in the name of safety or, in some cases, revenge.

Now what do you hear? Complaints about a war many feel has dragged on too long. Tiring of a government determined to watch our every move. News stories about overzealous TSA personnel at airports. We tend to forget why these measures have been taken or put in place.

Such was life for my friend. Much like many folks in Torrington, I know he would hate the new overpass.

He’d probably laugh and call it “the bridge to nowhere” or maybe even say it’s a “waste of money.”

He, too, would largely miss the point.

I’ve gone back and researched the topic. The overpass was created in the name of safety. This comes from a Telegram story written nearly four years ago:

“Torrington officials initiated the project in 1996 as a safety issue in regards to emergency vehicles accessing the area south of the railroad tracks and the slow response time to the area when there was train traffic.”

So, this has been an issue since at least 1996. I think at some point in the last 18 years, people have forgotten why Torrington should have an overpass.

But is it really that hard to imagine a situation where the overpass is absolutely critical?

A house fire, a car accident, an incident at Western Sugar or even Southeast schools, and the list goes on. In life-saving situations, every second is crucial, and these are scenarios could affect anyone. If you or a loved one were in dire need of help, would you want to wait five extra minutes for the trains to finish making their way through town?

A lot of people talk about the overpass as a waste of money. The state of Wyoming funded the project through WYDOT. The city of Torrington contribution totaled $32,000 as a 9-percent match for enhancements, according to Torrington Clerk/Treasurer Lynette Strecker.

If you don’t believe in the overpass, then educate yourself on how local and state funding works. In short, when the state tells Torrington it’s willing to spend millions of dollars within city limits in the name of safety and asks for around $30K in return, you don’t say no.

Otherwise, another Wyoming town not called Torrington would be using an overpass to keep its residents safer today. If you were the mayor or in city council, is that something you’d feel comfortable with?

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