Now, I don’t know about you but I believe that if my responsibility in a community was to serve as director of public works or whatever the title might be that gave me a bit of power over roads and bridges, the word, “proactive,” would be printed in large letters, framed, and hung on all for walls of my office. Perhaps this is oversimplifying the problem, but then again, perhaps that simple nine-letter adjective carries with it too great a sense of responsibility for the office holder. By definition, proactive means “controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems;” a secondary definition is “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”
I live in the United States; also in the State of Massachusetts. Our experience, probably since the time the Pilgrims landed on “that” rock or wherever they landed has been one of harsh winters with plenty of that white stuff. In addition, as summer draws nigh and fall comes upon us, we are very apt to be the recipients of a great amount of rain coming over from Africa and running up along the East Coast, soaking us, knocking down trees and sending them into electric lines which, consequently, are torn from their positions and sent, sparking to the ground. By the by, if you’ve never seen a power line on the ground, it’s quite fascinating…they tend to dance around this way and that way, rather like a snake that stayed too long at the local bar.
But anyway, getting on with this word, “proactive;” It seems to me that at some point during an off-season – I’m calling the spring months of April, May, and June, and the autumn months of September, October, and November, proactive measures should be discussed and plans developed for preparing for the weather-related events that will, as history has demonstrated, be upon us during the coming months. Wait, wait, wait, wait, the spring months are used to discuss winter and the autumnal months to discuss hurricane or rain events. Allow me to give a couple of examples. The state knows that when a rainstorm of moderate means lands in the Greater Boston area, certain low-lying roadways will be overwhelmed and flooded. These include several areas on highly-commuter-traveled Storow Drive, Route 9, and even portions of Routes 3 and 128. Experience has shown this to be true. Wouldn’t it, therefore, be practical to build some kind of pumping system underground, not dissimilar to a sump pump system in the home, that can pump this water into a special drain that might connect at a later stage with the drainage system already in place? We are blessed in this state with wonderful colleges and universities, MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Northeastern University, and many others with outstanding engineering programs. Tossing problems such as the one mentioned above right into the laps of these schools might just reward the state with engineering, drainage, and other ideas that could make Massachusetts a leader in flood controls.
As far as snow removal is concerned, one can only pray that we never see another winter like 2014-2105. However, if that is used as a baseline for developing plans for snow removal and storage, might not these same institutions as mentioned before provide us with proactive ideas for coping with such storms? The days of “this is the way we’ve always done it,” are gone…dead as the DoDo bird. Arguments of “We don’t have the manpower,” or “It will cost too much,” are outdated. When we look at the cost of last year’s snow season, or the cost of Hurricanes’ Sandy and Katrina, money becomes and excuse, and not a very good one.
Our infrastructure in this state and in this country is falling apart. In some places people are afraid to cross bridges wondering if this is the day their car ends up in a river. We pave our roads only to see a water main built in nineteen-ought-something give way and low a hole in our newly repaired roadway. We’re not thinking. We’re cosmetizing when we should be getting to and updating our root problems.
Is it going to cost money to be proactive? Yes, but the State of Massachusetts, and probably every other state in the union pisses away money every day, sometimes by unnecessary expenditures, but more often by fraudulent members of various public service departments. By tightening up our own ship, we might just find enough money to begin making the improvement of which I speak. “We don’t have the people” won’t work either. There are plenty of people out there who want to work, but who are sitting on the sidelines. There are also plenty of illegal aliens looking for jobs that will help them to become citizens of this country…throw that one into the mix and you’ll get all the people you need.
Is this idea ridiculous? Certainly, there will be some who think it is. They may be exactly like the group of dead Republicans found on Mars recently, holding signs that said, “There’s no such thing as climate change!” How long will it take before someone has the courage to say, “We can do these things; we can be proactive; we can prevent problems today by planning for tomorrow, and we can start right now?”