Thornton: dedication to finding the answers defines our profession

Whenever I marvel at the incredible scientific achievements of mankind — from the discovery of penicillin and the harnessing of alternating current to space exploration — I am reminded sometimes within the first few seconds in my automobile how far we have yet to go.

Terrance Thornton

Every month I seek out questions from our readership as items pop up in our daily lives that sometimes need answering. By and large those questions have revolved around all the ins and outs of municipal services.

Always the most prevalent questions I receive is, without a doubt, centered around consternation folks have as they traverse atop municipal thoroughfares completing daily commutes to and from the responsibilities of their lives.

Rearing its ugly head oftentimes to the chagrin of us all: the traffic jam.

Every resident who drives an automobile has, at one point or another, found themselves in a jam often wondering, “how did I get here?” Kathy Radecki of Scottsdale ponders this very question, asking why the 124th Street and Shea Boulevard underpass remains closed.

Yearning for an answer, she asks: “It opened then quickly closed and has been closed for months. Suggests that there are structural issues, yet, I suppose that is why I am reaching out to see why no one is there working yet it’s closed and appearing to be complete.”

Obliging her request for information is Kelly Corsette, who serves the city of Scottsdale as its public affairs director, but even he didn’t know immediately why the prolonged closure.

Under the guise of the public interest, Mr. Corsette found out the city was forced to close the underpass as it was discovered the northern gabion wall could have structural integrity issues. The word “gabion” is Italian in heritage and translates to “big cage” but in this case used for erosion control of that underpass construction.

Regardless of the reason, Mr. Corsette assures, “The city requested an investigation of the wall and upon the suggestion of the structural engineer, has closed the pathway to access.”

However, as of press time, Mr. Corsette says no resolution has been found.

Oftentimes these issues take time as Mr. Corsette notes, “The city is continuing to pursue resolution to the issues identified with the construction of the wall. It is unknown at this time how long it will take to resolve this situation.”

Many of our readers will be disappointed to read this fact, but perhaps we should be reminded of the efforts of the municipality and government in general to keep us safe because driving an automobile can sometimes be a scary proposition.

Every year hundreds of Arizona motorists lose their lives on local streets and highways.

“Traffic deaths in Arizona rose for the third straight year, climbing to 1,000 in 2017, and, yet again, impairment, speeding and reckless driving, and failure to wear a seat belt are leading factors in traffic fatalities,” said a late July press release issued by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of those deaths — an estimated 43 percent — occurred because of substance abuse particularly alcohol and prescription medications, data suggests.

When these facts are reported annually by ADOT — which serves as a repository for traffic data, I have been told — it appears some behavior is changing for the better, but not across the board.

Nationally, from 2016 to 2017, people injured in crashes has declined, but here in Arizona those data points remain constant.

Noting speeding and reckless driving, law enforcement officials say, driver behavior is the No. 1 cause for accidents and personal injury.

Every state saw a decrease as Arizona appears to have steady numbers whereas here there were 127,064 crashes in 2017 and 127,039 in 2016, which according to the data illustrates speeding and reckless driving resulted in 285 speed-related deaths and continues to permeate here in Arizona.

We at the Scottsdale Independent strive to inform you, our readership, on things that improve your daily lives. From local elections to in-depth reporting on the world around you, we are local journalists striving to bring a conscientious approach to the craft of news reporting.

Scottsdale readers are engaged and thoughtful about who they read, who they support and over the last few years, we at the Independent have felt a shift in perspectives regarding our products and our approach.

Perspectives oftentimes shape our reality and the reality is we are here reporting every single day on the local issues that matter — not the issues that help us sell advertising. Many of us here, including myself, have worked second jobs just to have the opportunity to call ourselves a news organization.

Ask the Editor, our question- and-answer series and our robust local coverage of the philanthropic backbone of the community is what separates us from many others because we care more about making a difference more than we do making dollars and cents.

Promises made by our editorial mission are kept and our dedication to a wholesome, courteous and conscientious approach to journalism is unwavering.

Even in the face of the Great Recession nothing ever changed for us. We didn’t go out of business. We didn’t lay off our staff. And, we didn’t take the easy road toward advertising. We stayed dedicated to our mission — just like we are today.

Regardless of the political temperament of the day, the Scottsdale Independent is here for you. So, what can your team of award-winning journalists get answered for you?

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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