Sunday, 5 January 2003

Nicely making the right noises

Incoming TDOT commissioner Gerald Nicely faces some real challenges in his new job, but he's making the right noises in this interview with the Nashville Tennessean. As I said before, I think TDOT's problems are more perception than reality; however, there are some real issues:

  • The politicization of the project allocation process is unseemly and needs to stop. If Phil Bredesen follows through on his word and concentrates on merit (traffic needs and economic development) in selecting projects, this will be a major improvement.

  • The “Tennessee Rail Plan” is largely dead-on-arrival and needs to be scrapped. It will do virtually nothing to reduce the need for additional capacity on I-40 between Memphis and Knoxville. The only part that makes any sense is the rerouting of rail lines and consolidation of intermodal facilities in Memphis.

  • Delaying or reconsidering the south leg of TN 840 at this point would be counterproductive.

  • Reconsidering the I-475 “Orange Route” selection would be similarly counterproductive; by all measures, it is the best alternative. A route via Pellissippi Parkway (a so-called “Green Route”) would just increase congestion on I-40/75 and would not function as an effective bypass route.

  • Any construction on the north leg of TN 840 should be delayed until after construction of I-475 and I-69 is well underway.

Radley Roundup

Rather than writing several paragraphs to summarize my reaction (which was basically to pump my fist in the air and shout YES!), let me just link you to Radley Balko's take on the Indianapolis Colts, his plug of Penn Jillette's recent airport experience in Las Vegas, and his comments on the ADA's potential impact on the Super Bowl (also mentioned at Hit & Run, or as Radley calls it, “ReasonBlog”).

“Binge” Drinking (updated)

Radley Balko and Jacob Sullum write on the latest study from the neo-Prohibitionists on so-called “binge drinking.” Both point out that the definition is a bit bizarre: five drinks in a single sitting, with no reference to time at all. So, for example, if you start drinking at 6 p.m. and stop at 11 p.m., if you only have one drink in an hour you're “binge drinking”; never mind that if you weigh more than 100 pounds you'd barely even have a buzz at the end of it.

I won't pretend there isn't a problem with alcohol abuse in this country, but this definitional trickery seems to be another in a long line of those perpetrated by MADD (and other public health advocates, who want to make their favored societal problem a “disease” or ”public health threat”) to move the goalposts and demonize behavior that offends their personal sensibilties more than it causes tangible problems in society.

The zone-flooding on this one has started; InstaPundit and Radley have linked to this TechCentralStation column by Iain Murray that argues “The Temperance Movement is Back”. An interpretation that MADD has fallen victim to mission creep (as many groups do once their core goals are accomplished, like the NAACP, the feminist movement, and the Environmental Protection Agency) might be too charitable; MADD is rapidly showing its true colors as a prohibitionist group akin to the Womens' Christian Temperence Union of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.