Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Red Light, Green Light

I would like to take this opportunity to write about something that has been on my mind for a long time: something that bothers me greatly, that causes much headache when it occurs. I am talking about West Des Moines stoplights (or as my friend Chris loves to call them, spotlights, hehe).

I have lived in the same area my entire life. Actually, aside from four years at Simpson College (which is a mere 25 minutes from my parents’ house), I have lived in the same five mile radius. My parents never moved, and my husband and I lived first in a townhouse less than five miles away, and now in a house basically in my parents’ front yard. Sometimes it bothers me that I never ventured out (I said in high school that I would go to college far away and live even farther away!), but I like it here, it’s home, and it’s generally a great place to live.

In the 25 years I’ve lived here, things have changed….a lot. Cornfields have become megamalls and parking lots, dirt roads have become four-lane highways, and businesses have come bursting onto the scene where not even a decade ago the rustling of corn and chirping of birds were the only sounds you’d hear. Jordan Creek Towncenter happened, and the rest was history. I like the city feel, the suburban lifestyle, and the general ritziness of everything being so new. The one thing I despise above all else, however, is the stoplights.

For some reason, whoever was charged with creating street and traffic patterns for Jordan Creek Parkway (remember when it was 74th Street?!?!) decided to forego the green circle option when turning left and replaced it with a green arrow only. This means anytime you need to turn left, you cannot simply yield to oncoming traffic and then proceed to your destination; no, you have to wait for your own special “turn” in the sequence to make your left. It doesn’t matter if the only oncoming traffic are mere dots they are so distant; you….must….wait. Joel can tell you how upset I get when sitting at these stoplights, which happens frequently. Yesterday I went the entire length of Jordan Creek Parkway without hitting a single red light, and it was glorious! Not to mention I was 10 minutes early to my destination.

Not only did the light engineers do away with my beloved green circle option when turning left, I truly believe there is some kind of conspiracy with the lights on Mills Civic Parkway. Instead of anticipating your arrival by changing colors in your favor, every time I approach the lights around the mall, they turn RED. I kid you not, try it sometime. It’s like trying to get to the back wall of The Buckle and out again without being harassed by an employee; it is simply impossible. It’s like the engineers got it backward and instead of helping traffic issues, the lights create them.

And then there are the lights around the new Aviva building. The building is not done, no one works there, and yet the stoplight is still functioning. I cannot express how frustrating it is to sit and wait at a light where not only no one else is around, but they couldn’t be if they wanted to because the entrance isn’t even open. When I was almost rearended this winter by a truck because that stoplight felt the need to let nobody turn into the Aviva building before I could proceed straight ahead (which wouldn’t have even been an issue in the first place if they hadn’t eliminated the green circle option), I was livid. The stupidity of these engineers very nearly cost me thousands of dollars in vehicle repair for a light that doesn’t even need to function yet. Awesome.

My brother is finishing his first year at Iowa State University as an engineer….if the aeronautics thing doesn’t work out for him, perhaps he should give the traffic light engineering gig a try. If you feel my pain on this, stay tuned for a similar post to come regarding Jordan Creek medians….

Editor's Note: I got my first ticket the other day. One of those stupid cameras caught my slightly running a red light. I was late for a baby shower I was co-hosting because the balloon people messed up my order, and I was caught know it - a green left turn arrow that was turning RED! So I went for it a little late, they snapped my photo, and $70+ later, I'm ready to bash those cameras in with a baseball bat. 


Anonymous said...

Agreed! I live on Mills Civic past "the cemetary in the middle of the road" and the lights drive me nuts!!! I the one that doesn't even need to exist yet! My mom thinks I am nuts because I yell at it everytime it turns red (which is pretty much all the time). I think that light is red more than it is green, which is ridiculous since there is no road yet! Feel your pain!

Anonymous said...

Oh - you ARE your father's daughter!! :) The two of you could write volumes on your irrational, over-aggitation at red lights. Perhaps these are meant as a 'slow down and learn some patience' message to you. I receive my message every time I am in line at Walmart. God has a sense of humor, you know :) The $70 ticket is proof. Mom

Anonymous said...

Oh you ARE your father's daughter!! The two of you could write volumes on your irrational, over-aggitation on red lights. Perhaps this is your message to 'slow down and learn some patience'? I get my message every time I'm in line at Walmart. God has a sense of humor you know - thus the $70 ticket!!:) Mom

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