Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A little known public-private co-operation

I was driving on some errands on Duluth's Central Entrance today.  As I neared the traffic light at Arlington, I saw flashing red lights in my rear view quite some distance behind.  I pulled over to the side which surprised the driver behind me.  More and more drivers pulled over.  An ambulance passed us all, went into the left side of the road to get around the cars stopped at the light.

Right after the ambulance passed, the light turned green and we all proceeded.  We were still in sight of the ambulance as it neared the next traffic light and the light turned red.  Also a little white light on the crossbar went on.  The ambulance went through the intersection, then the little white light went out and the light turned green.

The city of Duluth has put special switches on many of the traffic lights.  When an emergency vehicle approaches, either somebody points a special wand at the traffic light or the vehicle has some transponder.  When this happens, the lights turn red for all traffic entering the intersection.  After the emergency vehicle passes, the traffic signal resumes its normal cycle.  I bet these special switches ain't cheap.

How is this public-private co-operation?  The only ambulance service in Duluth is a private company.  If the city hadn't put up the special switches, the ambulances would have to slow down a lot more at intersections, making their run time longer and more costly.

This is just one more example of the way government and taxes make a civilized and advanced society possible.