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What year is it?

Today there is a story in the Seattle times about how the reversible carpool lanes that run through downtown Seattle on I-5 work. Did you know that they switch them by hand? Twice a day? It takes 2 poor bastards almost an hour, in traffic, in all weather, to go out there and reverse the direction of the gates and signs. I am astounded. We have some crusty old roads around here, sure, but I had no idea that guys had to go stand in traffic twice a day to reverse those gates. The story says that they do it the same way as when the lanes were put in 40 years ago. Some rocket scientist is just now writing a proposal to remote control the gates. I may be mistaken, but I think that, even 40 years ago, they had really long wires. Why didn't they run wires out to those gates when they put them in? Why put the switches in control boxes on the freeway? On the freeway!? Who's idea was that? "Say, Joe, shall we put the gate switches here in the metro control?" "Nah, just put them out there in traffic. I am sure that it will be fine to have the boys go stand out in traffic in the dark and the rain to throw the switches. They won't mind." You know, I have worked on some pretty messed up systems, but this one has to be right up there in the top 10. It is now going to cost $10 million to retro-fit remote controls. What would it have cost 40 years ago when they were building the express lanes? An extra buck fifty for wire? How much have we taxpayers been paying to have workers stand in traffic twice a day to switch those lanes? What is the salary for that? Do they get danger pay, or really cheap life insurance? I wonder how the job description reads? "Must be quick on your feet. Very quick. Cheetah quick. No, really." Seattle is the home of Boeing, Microsoft, and countless other high-tech companies and just now, in 2008, someone has just come up with the idea of running a wire out to the switches on the freeway? Unbelievable.


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