Wal-Mart’s new store on Thompson Bridge might have friendly words “Neighborhood Market” on its sign, but “Neighborhood Racket” would be a better name. A racket is an organized immoral activity for extortion; a dishonest scheme, trick, business or activity.
Wal-Mart’s insistence to get its own stoplight against the wishes of everyone in the neighborhood, and supposedly our city government, is very ugly. The store has already been open for 100 days and all can see a stoplight is not warranted. For most red lights, there has to be an evidenced need for a light.
It’s ridiculous this city and the state Department of Transportation let Wal-Mart’s own traffic engineers do their own “traffic studies” on our state roads and place lights. It’s an obvious conflict of interest. And when local citizens recently asked to see the study, we can’t see the study because nobody can find it!
This out-of-state neighborhood business does not care about smooth traffic flow in our town, nor about the people doing 66,000 daily commuter trips on this road each day. We now waste our time away sitting at this private red light on a state-funded highway. The stoplight is unfair to all small business on the same corridor, as they would also benefit from their own stoplight to funnel traffic into their parking lots.
The Wal-Mart stoplight is not at an intersection, but this business insists it literally become an intersection. The business evidently doesn’t like to compete like other neighborhood stores; it demands its own stoplight. The light is not designed to ease traffic. It’s designed to impede, divert, slow and sluice traffic into their store.
One can calculate the stoplight will cost each daily commuter 300 minutes per year. That adds up to 165,000 person hours per year. By average, Gainesville income measures, that’s $3,158,100 of lost productivity per year. Every commuter shall be enslaved to this mega-corporation for five hours a year for no public good, considerable harm, and without one official, publicly funded traffic study.
I agree with the mayor when he says the light is a waste of time and money, and I believe him when he says it’s politics under the Gold Dome. However, it appears politics extend beyond the Gold Dome. On March 16, I spoke with Mr. Cook, traffic engineer at the GDOT for our region, regarding this light. He clarified the point that our city officials can exercise control over placing lights; he confirmed that if he got a letter protesting the light from the mayor or the engineering department the light would not happen.
I communicated Mr. Cook’s statement in writing to the whole City Council. That protesting letter from the city evidently never came. The city now promises to do an independent study of the corridor sometime after the light is installed.
In the meanwhile, I’ll resist turning into any businesses so powerful they command their own stoplight when they don’t even have traffic. While stopped at this new private driveway, consider the high cost of low price.