Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Piece of the Action

Arkansas will be receiving approx $370 Million in highway stimulus money. Unlike Missouri, no one knows how it will be spent yet. In the meantime, everyone seems to want a piece of the action.
According to Kiplinger, there are several projects that are major candidates for funding including:

  • Widening US 67 northeast of Newport
  • Widening US 167 from Little Rock to El Dorado,
  • Reconstruction on the I-430/I-630 interchange
  • Construction of I-49 from Texarkana to the Louisiana state line
But other projects are wanting money too:

  • Springdale wants $20 Million to build an exit on I-540 for the Don Tyson Parkway
  • Siloam Springs wants an unspecified amount to move utilities along US 412 in preparation for widening.
Funny thing is: both Springdale and Siloam Springs previously committed to paying for these projects out of their own pockets. Yet, now they want government money? If they do get federal money for these projects, what happens to the money already set aside? Another project? Or will they simply pocket the money?

While I agree (albeit somewhat reluctantly) that working on infrastructure may help revive the struggling economy, I disagree with people who believe their project is more worthy than anyone
else's and they should be first in line for a handout like a cheap Welfare mother.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

That was Fast

The ink barely dried on the President's Economic Recovery Plan today when Missouri announced the awarding a contract to upgrade US 60 between Monett & Republic. The project entails building alternate passing lanes from Chapell Drive in Monett to Kansas Avenue in Republic. Total cost of this project is estimated at $8.7 million (Missouri's share of road/bridge stimulus money comes to around $637 million).

Now, I can't help but wonder how they did that so fast, including holding a press conference. My educated guess is bragging rights. Missouri already has bragging rights for one of the first sections of Interstate highway to let to contract, so I suppose it makes sense in a way to also have bragging rights for one of the first economic stimulus projects to be awarded.

That aside, US 60 is in major need of upgrading. From the Oklahoma State Line to just east of Republic, US 60 is primarily a 2-lane highway. A new bridge and additional lanes were completed just last year in Monett and the roadway in Republic was just widened 3-4 years ago. Otherwise, the last major improvements were done circa 1960 when US 60 was re-routed around Monett & Aurora.
So this is way beyond past due and very much needed. Having family near Springfield, I've driven US 60 many a time over the years and more often than not wind up stuck behind a slow moving truck or a tractor, so I can attest to the need for upgrades.

Now, I don't care about politics. I don't care if this is the first or 101st project Economic Recovery project. I'm just glad to see to see it coming.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sign Collectors: Victims of the Recession

As much as I like old maps, I also like old signs. I'm sure I've previously mentioned my e-bay stop sign (yellow with black square lettering), but I also have a replica of a US 66 cut-out sign
as well as a cut-out US71 sign One sign I've always wanted was a 1920's-30's era Arkansas cut-out. They are nearly impossible to find on e-bay and if you find one, they are pricey (as in $300+). I recently found a person on-line who has the specs for the old signs and has a source who can make them for him. I've been talking to "Jake" off and on for a few weeks trying to work out a deal (or rather, he's been trying to make me a deal). Well, money is way too tight right now for me to even think of getting a sign. Even though it only cost me around $80-$90, I just don't have that kind of funding right now without running up my credit cards. So I'm going to have to wait for the economy to improve before I can afford an AR 45 signor even an AR 68 sign.

I've also considered a cut-out AR 471 sign either 20's era or 50's era
since it only lasted 3 years and was never made as a cut-out (cut-outs were phased out around 1971).
Then again, where would I put them in my apartment? If I owned a house, I could put them in the game room or shop.

So, no signs for me, I suppose (as well as quite a few other collectors, I'm sure). I guess we're just more victims of the recession.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Got Maps?

I was sorting some stuff in my storage unit the other day and found a couple boxes I had forgotten about. I looked at them and noticed they were marked "maps", so I grabbed them and brought them home. Oh my gracious, do I have maps! Not just a few, but 2 motor oil size boxes full of maps. Some of these are my private collection (Missouri and Arkansas maps dating as far back as 1926), while others I've picked up here and there over the years, including a few off e-bay (sometimes I will bid on an odd lot of maps just to get one or two I want. Then the others become "traders"). Well, I've lost count of exactly how many maps I have, so it's time for me to hit e-bay and sell a few of these off (or a LOT in this case). Before I do, though, I'll probably offer them to my fellow RMCA members first since I don't have to worry about e-bay commissions or PayPal fees. Some of my maps, though, I have 5 or 6 copies of the same one... mostly Arkansas and Missouri. Every time I stop at a Tourist Info Center, I grab a map, even if I think I already have one (you never know when you might lose your other map or spill something on it, which happens a lot with me). It's going to be tough to sell 6 of the same map on e-bay... especially when they only date back to circa 1999 or 2000.

Most libraries don't want them (but I'd love to have anything they no longer want ;) ) and I'd hate to relegate them to the recycling bin, so I came up with a new idea: Freecycle. Instead of throwing them away or sticking them back in the box, I've offered a few maps on my local Freecycle list. I picked out a few of the less than pristine ones and offered them on Freecycle. So now I don't feel guilty about throwing them out and I've perhaps created an interest in maps with someone new. You could call it "aiding and abetting" by creating yet another collector with boxes and boxes of maps, but I prefer to think of it as "RMCA: The Next Generation" ;)