Highways and Ski Towns
July 10, 2004
That is interesting. I'd say tax the locals and up the local lift tickets another 5 bucks and use the money to build a 2 or 3 mile tunnel to bury the interstate as it passes by Vail.
I think this issue is becoming a national crises. And it has a name...OVERPOPULATION. Another equal cause is the lack of a national railroad infrastructure and the dependence on cars. I'm not one of these anti freedom to drive your own car fanatics (DC has enough of those self-righteous 'if you don't use Metro you're a horrible person' types). It's decreasing the quality of life in areas like Washington/Baltimore, for example. I feel that as a citien/taxpayer I should have the freedom of mobility, and the freedom to use my own car, but...in addition, the option of using VIABLE (emphasis on the word VIABLE) mass transit alternatives. A train from Denver to Vail would be a common-sense investment in our national infrastrucure.
This is exactly why it is so important not to allow runaway development along the future Corridor H area. Overdevelopment is a very preventable thing, especially since nothing in that area has been developed yet.
Interesting thing, though, is that there has been a ski train operating in Colorado for years. Downtown Denver to Winter Park. Runs every Saturday and Sunday, or at least it used to. A two hour trip, which is not much longer than driving, because the driving route to WP goes over two-lane, high elevation Berthoud Pass. Certainly less stressful than driving. And it stops right at the base area of Winter Park. But despite all those benefits, it is almost exclusively used by youth ski clubs -- very few adults and very few weekenders or vacationers use the train. (I know as I was one of those youth ski club members riding it every Saturday.)
The problem is that even with viable, convenient mass transit alternatives, you can't force people to use them. And in most every part of the country, people who would otherwise drive don't consider mass transit until the drive becomes almost unbearable. Changing that American attitude is a lot harder than just building better railroads.
For the record, the ski train's website ishttp://www.skitrain.com/
One can take an RTD city bus from downtown Boulder to Eldora. One can take a city bus from downtown Salt Lake City to Brighton, et al.
[people who would otherwise drive don't consider mass transit until the drive becomes almost unbearable]
Unfortunately, we don't let our drives become unbearable (even though they are getting real close). If there is too much traffic, the first thing we fix is the highways. The government, taxpayers, me, you, etc. overwhelmingly choose to build more, bigger, better (yeah right) roads.
For example, let's look at the springfield interchange. I read somewhere that when this is all said and done, it will save 38 seconds off of the normal rush hour commute. 38 SECONDS!!!!! What kind of waste is that. How much money are we spending? And now Metro has had to raise rates, causing some to weigh their options and choose driving because it's cheaper (and relatively faster).
Very few places have become unbearable enough to have people go to mass transit. New York and Chicago first come to mind. Mass transit is used a lot. However, it is also unbearable to take mass transit there. Los Angeles is also unbearable traffic wise. But there is very little mass transit that goes to where people work. But they have built lots of roads.
for Roy ...
I used to take mass transit here until it became too unbearable and expensive and time consuming. I live in Germantown and work in Arlington.
-- It costs me $6 a day to drive back and forth to my work, parking is company paid.
-- It takes 35 minutes in the morning (I leave before 6 am) and 45-60 minutes in the afternoon returning home for a total of 1.5 hours travel time per day. I ride share so am able to use HOV lane.
-- I can listen to -my- music, news on the radio, I can drink my coffee at my leisure, I can use my cell as necessary, I can sit down -all- the way.
-- If there is a delay I can take an alternate route.
-- Costs me $3.75 per day to park, $7.80 per day in metro fares, appx $3.00 per day in gas to get to the metro. Total = $14.55.
-- It takes 15 minutes morning and 30 minutes evening driving time to/from the metro station. From Shady Grove metro to downtown is 45-55 minutes, then another 25-30 to Balston, 15 minutes walk to my office. Average travel time per day using public transportation = 3:45 hours; more than 2.5 times driving. If I ditched my car altogether and took buses to and from the metro it would add another 2 to 2.5 hours travel time per day.
-- Unless I have expensive noise canceling headphones I can't listen to music, food/drink is not allowed on the metro, cell doesn't work, and the only time I get to sit down is the morning leg from Shady Grove to Metro Center.
-- If there is a delay, I am screwed.
I am all for public transportation. I lived in Greece for 26 years and took public transportation for the most of it. The transportation system there is not state of the art but it is convenient, fast, ubiquitous and cheap. When our local PT becomes as efficient as the notoriously inefficient Athens PT, then I will park my car and ride the Metro. But I don't see that happening anytime soon.
I agree snowcone. I lived in Alexandria and worked in Bethesda. Drive time (smack dab in the middle of Rush Hour) was 1 hour and 15 minutes on a good day. Metro was 2 hours, good or bad.
Your Greece example is the exact point I was making. The government and communities push for more roads. Those outside of the cities don't want public transportation because they are scared the "undesirable element" will take the train to their neighborhood and rob, rape, or kill them.
This is an attitude shared by many cities, especially in the south. Atlanta and Charlotte are two that come to mind that I can remember these types of arguments.
This is something I discovered several years ago when researching Corridor H and highways for an engineering class. What we are seeing is a vicious cycle where more people come into an area (overpopulation) and more roads are built as the solution to the population problem. As we all know this only provides temporary relief for a few months or years before traffic again becomes congested and aweful.
It seems the best place to fix traffic problems is to fix the root of the entire problem... bad zoning or overpopulation. Having a standard 2 lane road intersect with a road that leads into a 300 house development area simply is not smart zoning or planning. In my opinion it would be best to create zoning laws in conjunction with DOT recommendations for road traffic.
Now I agree the word zoning is a dirty one and I hate to hear it. But after visiting Leesburg for my dentist (Yup a 2 hour drive to my dentist) I continually see the need to protect what we have via enviornment around CH as well as other roads in general. Maybe zoning is the best approach? Maybe creating minimal zoning laws for developers only that say if any developments are created that no more than X amount of houses can be built no less than Y yards apart with no less than Z feet/yards/miles between developments?
By taking that approach zoning commissions are then limiting the amount of people who can be physically placed on any given plot of land. I'm kind of thinking off the top of my head by saying no more than 35 houses in a development area with each house located on a plot of land no less than 5 acres which is to require at least 25% of that acreage to be forrest with that development being at least 1.5 miles any other development.
With that happening then we would be limiting population growth, which then directly results in less traffic which a byproduct of that is less strip malls, less gas stations, less convience stores which results in a prettier and less congested living area. Mind you this could be implimented for Hardy County, but a modified approach could be taken for congested cities. In fact it's quite possible counties could simply deny development all together saying no housing developments over 10 houses per development could exsist and make it county law in order to protect encroachment on wild life, less congestion, etc.
This has always been a major concern of anti-corridor H groups. Yes they have opposed the destruction of CH in the land used, but they have been far more worried that CH will be the gateway for developers selling off land to make hardy county another leesburg with roads going everywhere to houses everywhere and creating worse congestion, higher crime, etc.
Now you have hit a root of the problem. If counties denied development, then they are denying themselves tax revenues. How do you convince a county to not take tax revenues?
It also goes back to the car companies. Why should they build hybrids or alternative vehicles when it cost them more money to develop a car that is not necessarily going to sell? It's a good thing Japan is so small because they started developing these cars first. Hopefully, this will catch on more and more here.
"How do you convince a county to not take tax revenues?" - Take them and drop them in the middle of Leesburg during rushhour.
Seriously though this does present a tough choice. Do county commissioners push for development as an easy way to get tax revenue, or do the county commissioners instead work their butts off to come up with policies that strive to gain a balance between tax revenue/development and rural peacefulness. In the end it really boils down to the fact that if growth is halted then tax revenues are slowed down significantly.
Now what is a good compromise? Maybe the county needs to realize that it simply won't ever reach above a certain point of revenue growth based on population unless the county then begins structuring taxes based on wealth distribution. I don't mean taxing the crap out of anyone and everyone, but for businesses, figure out how many trucks are coming in and out of the county and tax accordingly. If they are heavy uses of the highway to transport goods then they should be paying a fair share of highway taxes. And at the same time for those folks who are barely making it by on $30k/yr then they shouldn't be taxed in such a manner that makes it prohibitive to live here.
Also on the flipside is that while businesses and those wealthier people should be taxed more than lower income folks, I don't believe in hammering the wealthy/businesses for that purpose. Rather have policies in place that foster business growth which in turn creates work for the local population. If the county was able to create some sort of work that allowed 50% of the local people to work here we'd see a tremendious tax revenue gain without having development or other sorts of destruction. Mind you my current estimates is that well over 80% of this county's population leaves the county everyday for Virginia to goto work. Some as far as DC, but most goto Harrisonburg and Winchester.
Hardy County and surrounding areas are already somewhat of a haven for businesses, although not in the sense that you'd think. Some businesses such as Peacock Cabinetry located outside of Wardensville located their main production facility here due to WV being the 'mexico labor' of the east. Which is entirely wrong.
Maybe the solution is to make it prohibitive for businesses to move a facility everytime a new tax comes out, or from moving every few years. We can't as a nation continue to loose tax revenue via businesses outsourcing or moving locations everytime they don't like a new tax with revenue then coming mainly from development. It's a pure abuse of the system.
With Corridor H in place now being mainly an intercounty connector I don't see why it's not possible to attrach a tech company in Moorefield. Maybe another factory of sorts so that people from the Strasburg area could actually drive 55 to Wardensville in 25 minutes and another 15 minutes be in Moorefield. With Corridor H now Hardy county for example has a legitimate ability to attract outside workers and revenue.
These are just my ideas and hopefully 10 years or so from now I can run for county or state elected positions and help institute these type of policies that protect the beauty of WV, slow residential development, but at the same time foster business growth.
You said: "Maybe the solution is to make it prohibitive for businesses to move a facility everytime a new tax comes out, or from moving every few years. We can't as a nation continue to loose tax revenue via businesses outsourcing or moving locations everytime they don't like a new tax with revenue then coming mainly from development. It's a pure abuse of the system."
You're a genius! I feel the same way. Not to start a heated political debate, but all the 'free enterprise' folks say 'it's free enterprise' when businesses ship American jobs overseas and skilled Americans are headed for the bread lines (not now, but just wait a few years, mark my words), but when it comes to American consumers on fixed incomes excercising their right to buy drugs from Canada, that is not OK! After all, in the so-called 'Global Economy', as the neo-cons call it, buying life-saving prescriptions from Canada would surely be considered free enterprise, right? I guess 'free enterprise' is only applicable to the hustlers in the DC area buying up homes in new developments (directly from developers) then reselling cookie-cutter crap homes for $850k to the yuppie suckers that buy them, and for the robber-barons that benefit from opressing the shrinking middle-class in general (ie. the prescription-drug issue). Oh, and the fact that the uninsured working poor (who often work two jobs and still can't get by, thanks WAL-MART), who can least afford it, are charged 3x the hospital fees that the insured are. Go figure
When it comes down to it, it's all about the bottom line. To the county tax collectors, the businesses, and to the senior citizens going to canada. Except, where it is the most unfair, is to the senior citizens. At this point, they are like rich white women driving through the hood to buy some crack. They stick out like a sore thumb going into canada. Pretty soon, somebody is going to pass a hard law and throw grandma in jail for bringing legal-er I mean-illegal drugs across the border.
Eventually HBO will have a series called Blue Oz about the life of imprisoned grandma's living in the hard life in prison. But I digress.
My point is that the senior citizens, living off of the promised system of social security, are trying to protect their bottom line. The drug companies are forced to sell these drugs cheaper in canada by the government. And while they claim they have to make up their profits by selling at higher prices here, they are not looking at the right numbers. If they stopped paying the lobbyist, campaign contributions, etc., etc., they could make the same profits. But again, who is going to turn down the money. The congressmen are certainly not going to pass any law that would hurt the contributions they get.
How do we fix this? Maybe we should all vote for the Green party candidates. Then they will eventually build a following and be on equal level with the Democrats and Republicans. Then they will get campaign contributions, be in the same system, and we still won't get anything done.
The baby boomers said they would change the world. And there have been some changes for the good. But many have gone into these companies that have dominated stock markets over the last 10 years. And many will do things that are for the good, as long as it doesn't mess up that bottom line.
Excuse me ... but there are profits and then there are PROFITS. I have taken a particular maintenance pharmaceutical for over 30 years. In Greece, this generic costs the equivalent of $4.50 for 100 tabs .. here, the identical generic costs $49, and, I imagine, the profit margins on a whole list of maintenance drugs have equally astronomical markups. That's not profit that's robbery! When I reach retirement age (yeah right!), I will be heading over the border with the rest of the blue-haired, elastic-waistband crowd, laws or no laws. Throw me in jail if you want but govies still have to give me my medication only difference is that then the government will have to pay for it, not I. Then again, maybe I'll just move back to EU ... kinda hard to go skiing when you are incarcerated!
Well then what this boils down to is that there needs to be elected officials who has more of a spine than a snake to turn down money and realize the betterment of humanity is at stake, not their wallets. Most won't do that, but a very select few could and I'd like to think I am one of those when I run for public office a few years from now.
What chance do you think a candidate would have of getting elected on a platform of status quo?
Yeah, I'd vote for the guy who said he supports ending the system of the US subsidising the rest of the worlds pharmacutical costs; I'd also vote for the guy who says New York, Boston, LA, DC, NOVA have enough roads, let's redistribute the people who're tired of being stuck in traffic where the traffic ain't. I'm really looking for the candidate who can promise and deliver the following:
1) Nine months of winter
2) Knee deep powder in the mid-atlantic every weekend
3) High speed quad at Timberline
4) Tory Mountain open winter of 04/05
Hrm, a high speed detachable quad lift at Timberline to replace thunderstruck. Thats do-able.
Heck if I can get my business to take off I would buy Timberline, stop housing development and possibly even buy out a few condo's to expand the slopes. Anyone up for a a few more double blacks alongside upper almost heaven?
Heck if I could get an I.T. job at Tory Mountain I'd then offer insight on what is going on there as another DCSki.com exclusive.
Walker for Governor Platform!!!!
1) Nine months of winter
2) Knee deep powder in the mid-atlantic every weekend
3) High speed quad at Timberline
4) Tory Mountain open winter of 04/05
5) More double blacks alongside upper almost heaven
lol well I do plan to start out in county commission politics down the road so I can work from the ground up in the local area to make things more business friendly especially to ski resorts. If I could get on the Tucker Co or Randolph county commission seats, work to heavily promote tourism and ski slopes maybe Tory mtn and MPC could get built and this area of WV could be the dominate monopoly ski area of the mid-atlantic.
Then as I could progress to state senate and finally into a govenors position I could help continue policies friendly to skiiers, tourism, and do what was possible to help ensure WV is on the ski map around the country. We may not be an aspect, but a very properly handled MPC could be a #2.
Anyway I'm dreaming here of being govenor and riding a snowboard down off of Timberline and giving positive words for it. Wouldn't that be something to see and be something to spike interest.
Whose up for helping me institute policies to get young kids and school kids on the slopes to learn how to ski to help drive more customers to ski resorts so as these kids get older they are addicted to skiing/boarding and use their dollars on skiing rather than booze and drugs.
bawalker you have my vote. And if you get elected to a high enough office that you need skiing bodyguards on the slopes, you know where you can find them (right here on DCSki!)
You got it! It'd be a tough job but we'd manage somehow
A few months ago I asked bawalker just where the rush hour traffic on 50 west of Winchester was coming from.
Now I know: over the 4th I was visiting my folks in Cumberland (actually just across the river in Fort Ashby) and the topic of Corridor H came up. Lot's of folks up that way are eager for it to be complete. Why? Because it opens up new vistas of employment.
An unbelievable number of people in the Cumberland area and the surrounding areas work in Northern VA (not to mention Baltimore and Pittsburg). US50 is their current route of choice. A three hour commute doesn't seem very fun to me - but I guess it beats not working at all. Some of these folks are thinking that it will be easier to get to jobs in Manassas, Harrisonburg, and (!yikes!)Charlottesville. I met one guy - my moms neighbor - who gets up every day at 3am and carpools to Fairfax.
So ski issues aside, this "road to nowhere" might actually serve an immediate purpose.
All this talk about second homes in Canaan Valley for folks in DC... well turns out that many people who work close to DC have their FIRST and only home in that area - or close to it.
You mean people actually commute DAILY from places like Cumberland, Keyser, etc. to Northern VA, DC, and Baltimore? That's unbelievable!!! And to think that I complain about having to commute from Timonium-downtown DC 3-4 times a week. Wow. And to think that I almost didn't buy in Canaan Valley because I thought that a 3.5 hour drive was too long for a weekend's stay!
What kind of jobs do these commuters have? I assume that their employers are flexible on schedules, etc. Do you know of any articles in the Cumberland newspapers about this? Those are probably some of the longest commutes in the country, in all honesty.
I would love to be able to live in Canaan Valley year round, perhaps if I worked in Morgantown or Cumberland it would be doable. But, good jobs aren't exactly plentiful up there, and I would be crazy to give up my current job (which I truly enjoy, despite the commute).
He's right, these people DO commute DAILY to places like Leesburg, Manassas, and sometimes in even downtown DC. Quite a few of my neighbors here in Wardensville do that for construction jobs in DC. Even my former classmates mom traveled 2+ hours one way to drive from Baker to Leesburg every day for an office job down there.
So it's not unbelieveable for people around in this area, Cumberland and other areas to drop down on Rt 50 and take it into Winchester, and from Winchester ride Rt 50 or Rt 7 right into northern VA. The people who do this are those either in construction, or those who are seeking better than average office jobs and most often than not have a Bachelors or higher education.
What it boils down to is that if you have a college education do not expect to get anything better than burger flipping or oil changing jobs in this immediate region. Any job worth anything would be in Martinsburg (1 hour for me), Leesburg (1hr 45 min) or closer to DC. Being that my family or any local families don't have excess of cars that really puts the hurt on traveling. So most times high school kids are stuck at working walmart in winchester stocking shelves, working in the chicken plants in moorefield along side most their parents.
I can see it now...
<Roy> We got moguls ahead on OTW.
<warren> 10-4, There is fresh power on Thunderstruck, all clear here.
<johnmfh> Everything cleared out for the govenor?
<canaanman> We got ski patrol at 12 o'clock on Thunderdraft!!
<RyanC> I'm on my way to divert!
<warren> No way he's not going to...
<bawalker> oh yes, oh Yes he is!
<RyanC> Clear out ahead, pumphouse hucking dead ahead!
<bawalker> On my way for the post hucking pardon!!
"bawalker you have my vote. And if you get elected to a high enough office that you need skiing bodyguards on the slopes, you know where you can find them (right here on DCSki!)"
Well, I guess if it comes down to not working at all or driving 3 hours to work the choice is simple, esp if you have little ones. If you live up there and have gainful employment in Cumberland or say Petersburg you are quite lucky.
I know a few guys who are prison guards who drive to Hagerstown each day, and for a while my brother was driving to Frederick (he eventually moved) - but to find out that people from there are going downtown each day really blew my mind.
I drove an hour 45 minutes to Liberty everyday last winter as a full time ski instructor. Of course, I was against traffic everyday so there was very little congestion for me. And I skied everyday so that's motivation enough. However, I guess for these commuters that taking care of their families is a huge motivation. How are the home prices there? Is it that much cheaper?
And bawalker, just to get it straight, if I'm a bodyguard protecting you can I still huck?
Roy that was an interesting reverse commute you had. We can all probably tell some tales about long commutes in our region. I am absolutely not surprised at all to hear of tons of commuters coming into the DC area from Cumberland, Keyser, and other points to the far west and can think of a few folks I have met recently that are doing that. I now have an 18 minute commute from Falls Church to my office, but from '86 to '99 I did a 70 mile/90 minute (each way on a good day) commute from a home location west of Fredericksburg, VA to the Pentagon area (that's when I got to know Massanutten and Wintergreen ski areas quite well).
What BAWALKER said about the demographics and job descriptions of the ultra commuters from the west is similar to what I experienced commuting up from the far south. I lived where I did (a place called Lake of the Woods) because it was a great and cheap place to raise a family on a single income. It had nice amenities and real estate at less than half what it is closer to beltway. There was a cadre of other white collar professionals like myself doing the same commute, but the majority of ultra commuters were lower income, less educated folks doing what they had to do to attain the American dream. My typical I95 vanpool or VRE train buddies over the years (I tried both modes) were women with clerical/administrative jobs. These positions had better pay and benefits than service jobs closer to home. Their men often had construction jobs and often drove themselves at 5am to changing job sites around the city and suburbs.
The big commute is a bear, but as a young family man I rationalized it as a second job. The savings on my housing costs alone was unbelievable. The mortgage and taxes for roughly the same size house as what I bought in Falls Church in '99 was about $20-25k less per year - reasonable compensation for sitting in traffic 3 hours each day. I avoided doing the actual driving as much as possible. I was very envious of the lucky few who could make a good living close to their homes in the country. But they were few, even doctors, lawyers, and dentists took a loss in income by operating from rural or semi-rural offices.
By the way, the growth in traffic volume up I95 from points to the far south was enormous during my years doing that big commute. It is bumper to bumper some mornings now almost all the way up from Richmond.
My wife and I looked at Lake of the Woods a couple of years ago. Beautiful place and the amenities were great. Even though my wife is a water freak (swimming, boating, et al), I couldn't convince her to move there. She grew up in Manhattan and that was way too far out for a city girl. She's still struggling a little with Woodbridge.
I understand the income. I grew up on a farm in North Carolina. I went to college at Appalachian State in Boone, NC. I tried to live there from '88-'92. I lived on a friend's couch for 2 years, paying him $50 rent. It was hard to make a living. When I did get a place with friends, trying to make that $145 rent each month was tough (boy what I would give for that rent now). I drove a lot for my construction job then but there was virtually no traffic and the views were much better than I95.
Money isn't everything in this world but you do need it to survive. Back in our ancestor's days, they would track animals for miles and miles for food. Now many of us drive for miles and miles (or hours and hours) to be able to buy that food.
According to my sister (she lives in Manassas), the REAL reason VA won't fund their part of CH is that they want to prevent the "Thundering Herd" that would be commuting from WV each day - thereby crushing what little capacity remains on 66.
We should move the entire Federal Government (or DOD at the very minimum) to West Virginia--Morgantown would work just fine. That would make everyone a lot happier.
I could still commute to work by bicycle--M-town has a great system of bike trails. Furthermore, I'd be less than two hours away from 7 Springs, Wisp, T-line, Whitegrass, and CV.
BTW, my new boss commutes 17.3 miles a day each way by bike--twice the distance of my commute (I guess that's why he's the boss
). According to him, it's still faster in the afternoon than driving.
Yeah, Morgantown has a good rail to trail but you have to remember that you still have to climb a stinking mountain to get from there to pretty much anywhere else in town. I've done it but it sure doesn't make for a sweet smelling day at the office. Maybe we could get government funding for that elusive deodorant that works for the Morgantown dep of energy somehow.