Being Thankful for Responsive Citizens and Local Leaders

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

You may remember from last week through the media that the contractor in charge of building the $1.4 billion worth of infrastructure upgrades for the 91 Freeway through Corona was grilled by the People of Circle City.

To put a long story short, citizens expressed anger at a Corona City Council meeting over serious traffic and collision issues which sparked action from the public works department. Public works then wrote to the 91 Project Manager demanding the fixes. The contractor then got a few words from RCTC. If one simplifies the equation, the result is citizens grilling the construction contractor.

Two days ago, I was in Corona and noted several improvements right away. Workers were present later in the afternoon and into the night hours. Infrastructure was progressing more efficiently. The most notable was Main Street, which was re-striped with additional turn lanes at the 91 and traffic signals better timed, ending the infamous Corona Squeeze for this local arterial.

In addition, the pedestrian sidewalk at the freeway along Main Street which connects the transit center to the central core of Corona was re-opened and made ADA accessible with temporary wheelchair ramps and striping which helped bridge a major transportation gap. Before the sidewalk was rebuilt, those on foot needing to cross the 91 Freeway in this area had to detour all the way to West Grand Circle or shuttle in on a bus.

The good people of the City of Corona are to be commended for bringing this matter to their governing body and Corona's response demonstrates once again that public hearings never close.

Stay with the Family this Thanksgiving Holiday

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, there's another story that I'm thankful for. Time Magazine reported that the encroachment of materialism into the family holiday that has been going on for years has finally gone flat. That was mainly due to disappointing sales on Thanksgiving combined with family-oriented people like me electing to stay with the folks during the turkey feast for the entire night. A recent poll by RichRelevance showed that nearly two thirds of shoppers said they disliked stores being open on Thanksgiving Day.

Also this year, "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" Internet deals have been circulating and saturating the retail marketplace for several weeks already. Believe it or not, that may very well improve transportation mobility by unclogging the streets around retailers in between Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Just a few years ago when a major retailer hosted door-buster deals at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday, the streets and parking lots were congested.

Now, one just needs to spend about 10-15 minutes searching for a good "Door Buster" deal with free shipping, place an order, and get back with the family. Time reports that this factor would make further encroachment into Thanksgiving less likely. In fact, outdoor specialty retailer REI announced that it will be closed both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

I think times are changing for the better in this field. I'll keep a watch on this trend in the coming years. Hopefully soon, we just might see some good deals, lower fares and competitive transportation services for Thanksgiving travel before and after the holiday. Add to that robust infrastructure for such services. That would be a Black Friday deal I would like to see!

I encourage all who are reading this post to stay with the family on Thanksgiving for the entire day and evening and consider doing that for the entire four-day weekend. With cold weather coming into the Inland Empire, you may want to avoid the 30 degree night by not camping in front of a store this year. The power of the Internet and market competition on good deals may finally put a stop to the materialistic drive that encroaches into the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Travel safely. Enjoy the social time, play with the children, and enjoy the dinner feast. If you are forced to work on Thanksgiving day, schedule in a full uninterrupted 24 hour period with the rest of the family during this season.