Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hey guys -- it can't be that hard.

I have a solution for the conundrum the federal government and big, regional employers face every time we have difficult weather. No one has figured out how to control Mother Nature, but human nature is something we can deal with. Where people choose to live is a personal choice. Spouse and I choose to live in the District so that we can walk most places, including to work. Others choose to live in Loudoun or Montgomery or Prince William or Calvert or wherever even though they work in the District. No one should be penalized for their personal choices. [To me, having to commute on 95 or 50 or any other clogged highway is punishment enough.] Be that as it may, there should be a reward system for close-in workers who stay on the job during foul weather because they live within walking or biking distance. How about compensatory leave for workers who continue to work as their suburban co-workers hightail it out of town during bad weather. To determine who is released when, take a map of the D.C. region and, starting at the Capitol, draw concentric circles at five mile intervals away from the Capitol heading out into the far Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Then draw four quadrants: north, east, south and west. It will resemble a darts target. When the weather service indicates a storm is heading in, say, from the northeast, allow employees who live in the farthest north and east sectors from the Capitol to leave earliest. An hour later, release those living closer in and so on until actual D.C. residents are the last to be released. Of course release patterns would depend on the track of a storm and how quickly it is moving. Any such arrangement would require cooperation of schools, businesses, and governmental offices, public and private transportation services. Public works departments would clear evacuation routes ASAP then focus on secondary roads and neighborhoods. It seems logical that regional emergency management agencies should coordinate weather related evacuations of this sort similarly to how they would conduct any other sort of mass evacuation. The one goal would be to get everyone home safely, expeditiously and with as little trauma as possible. That's my idea. It sounds rudimentary even to me. However, I confess that I no longer take pleasure in watching commuters jammed up on local streets while I'm safe and warm at home. It's just not right.

No comments: