What’s the deal with the big white “X” painted on Camino del Rio and Eighth Street? Is the city telling us that Camino del Rio is for adults only? Or did the Colorado Department of Transportation bury some plundered loot under the street, where “X” marks the spot? – Jim
The road may sport an ”X,” but there’s nothing X-rated about Camino del Rio – other than the fact the traffic can be obscene.
Which brings up a question: Can traffic be obscene?
From a legal standpoint, not really. The Supreme Court defined obscenity has having three parts: It must be patently offensive, appealing to prurient interest and of no redeeming social value.
Camino del Rio traffic might be patently offensive at times, especially during the recent construction.
But there’s nothing lustful or lascivious about the crowded roads. If Camino del Rio traffic provokes those kinds of feelings, one should seek professional help immediately.
As for having no redeeming social value, Camino del Rio ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.
So let’s move on to speculation over buried treasure. Did CDOT stash a vast gold hoard under the pavement?
Avast, CDOT be not the pirate ye think she be. Arrrr!
We checked in with our friend Nancy Shanks, the department’s swashbuckling spokeswoman.
That “X” does indeed mark the spot. But it’s not painted over buried treasure, unless aging water and sewer lines are considered booty.
The purpose of Camino del Rio’s “X” is to let drivers know not to “block the box,” she said.
In many large cities, you will see an “X” in key intersections. When rush-hour traffic gets really bad, vehicles can back up for several blocks. The lights change, cross traffic can’t proceed and gridlock happens.
When people don’t “block the box,” things keep moving. And so it goes for the intersection of Camino del Rio and Eighth Street.
Nancy said the main issue was with city buses southbound on Camino del Rio. They need to turn left across traffic at Eighth Street to get to the Transit Center.
Northbound traffic stopped at the Ninth Street light would sometimes stretch across the intersection, preventing buses from turning.
“We painted the ‘X’ at the request of the city’s multimodal department,” she added. There is also a sign adjacent to the “X” that says “Do Not Block Intersection.”
So does that “X” installation have an official name amongst traffic engineers?
“Why yes. We call it The Big White ‘X’ Thing,” Nancy quipped. “Actually, there’s no ‘official’ name for the marking. But it defines the area that motorists shouldn’t enter when traffic is at a standstill.”
We could call The Big White “X” Thing an “Xbox.” But we can’t. That name’s already taken by Microsoft for its video game system. You know how Microsoft is with trademarks.
Or we could call the new white-painted thing a “car box” – which would complement all the new green “bike boxes.”
Except that bike boxes are designed for bikes to pull into, and a car box would be for cars to stay out of. There’s enough confusion out there already.
We need to come up with some sort of catchy name. So let’s get creative. You know ... think outside the box.
H H H
It’s not really the Mea Culpa Mailbag, but close enough.
Our good friend Terry Hobbs added an online comment to last week’s Action Line. It was inspired by the snide observation that marauding deer also will enjoy the newly improved Memorial Park and its newly planted shrubbery.
“I think ‘interlope’ should be adopted as the term for urban deer,” he writes, using the phrase thusly: “A herd of interlope has invaded my garden.”
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you can explain why boxing rings are square.