FWPD - Were here to Serve and Protect?
It is amazing how some government agencies just seem to not think ahead, even when it is their responsibility to think ahead. The 4th of July is a time of celebration, but that does not mean Mother Nature or life itself comes to a standstill. Having lived here since 1963, I know how many people go to the fireworks. They used to be held at McMillen Park where I as many other scouts would sell hot dogs, drink, candy and other “fine” snacks. The next day the area was a mess and we would be there bright and early to begin picking up all the trash.
They are no longer held at McMillen Park, but at Johnny Appleseed Park. This area is probably better suited with far more parking, but less sitting area than McMillen Park. With more people comes a bit more planning that is necessary. With thousands of cars exiting and the new stop light on Coliseum due to the removal of the tunnel which allowed those turning left onto Coliseum, there is a basic 15 car limit that can turn on a single light change. The Fantastic Fort Wayne Police Department however makes this look like a cake walk when they begin to close down south bound lanes north of Coliseum.
Did anyone think about the location of either Parkview Hospital or the Veterans Hospital off both State and Lake Streets and how closing south bound traffic on St. Joe Road and Clinton might hamper those needing emergency care? After speaking with Marty Bender on the phone for a short period of time, I got the distinct impression from his response and words used “evacuation of the area” was their main concern. I interpreted this to mean the FWPD's main concern was the evacuation of the Coliseum Parking lot. What I do not understand is how limiting south bound traffic and routing them further east or further west, actually they did not reroute, they simply waved their lights to keep moving, keeping you from making a turn south, would actually cleared the coliseum parking lot any quicker, safer or efficiently.
For those unlucky enough to have a medical emergency, trying to get to either Parkview or the VA Hospitals was very difficult. Even when you waved to a FWPD officer, they simply could care less. They walked like it was out of their way to come close enough to hear your need. “We are here to serve and protect” takes on a whole new meaning in a situation like this. First the officer asked the others where the medic had gone. Getting no response from the other non caring FWPD officers, the officer made a call to dispatch or someone on the radio to find out if an EMS unit could be sent or where the medic was. A transport by TRAA can exceed $1,400. A minute had gone by and still the officer was trying to divert a driver carrying a person in need of medical attention further away from the hospital it self when there was not a single car traveling south on St. Joe Road. The officer said the driver should wait for an EMS. How would an EMS get through all this traffic they created? The hospital was less than five minutes south. Finally, the officer motioned another officer to move their car out of the way to allow the driver to make a right turn. The entire distance between Washington Center and State Street had not a single car going south, but the north bound lane was bumper to bumper both lanes. In addition Washington Center Road east was bumper to bumper because the street narrows to one lane at the next stop light. So instead of utilizing several south bound streets, FWPD diverted these drivers east and west to basically two lane roads with half the capacity and shorter traffic light intervals resulting in compounding the traffic problem.
You would think that this would be the end, but two more sets of “FWPD” police car road blocks were blocking the road. What is simply amazing is that the Crescent Street and St. Joe road intersection had no police there directing any traffic. So who made the big decision to block south bound traffic? Clearly any theoretical traffic traveling south on St. Joe Road was not going to create a problem simply because Traffic Lights were being used to control flow, not FWPD.
My question is simple; Do police officers know how to direct traffic of this magnitude and if so, where do they learn the basics? Maybe traffic engineers should be consulted on tasks of this size?