We the people can speak up
There are few published examples [in which] a public need gets communicated to a public representative, communicated to a private company and action takes place to resolve a problem. I'd like to share one.
In July, I was walking along Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, which is part of Route 19 and has been under repair for several months. The curbs are being redone, the road repaired and [construction] cones are a regular part of the scenery.
I came across a young man in a wheelchair who was trying to get up a curb near the Mt. Lebanon library. From his language at describing his frustration, I noted that he was probably a fellow Marine and I provided a lift to get over a nearly insurmountable curb. We exchanged a "Semper Fi" and I went on to work, but it bugged me that there was a lip in front of a handicap ramp.
I emailed my representatives, state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, and state Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, about the issue. By the time I finished my commute and got to work, Mr. Smith had replied saying that he and Mr. Miller were looking into the matter.
About an hour later I got an email from Mr. Miller's office that said [a staffer] had talked to the manager for the construction project; the project was due to be completed in September and all ADA ramps would be flush at that time.
I replied to [the office] that there was a month of frustration ahead for my fellow Leatherneck and if we waited till everything was done it would be more costly to bring equipment and people back to fix it.
Mr. Miller's office called the project manager back to see what could be done. Several hours passed and I got another email from [the office] that said the project manager had a plan that would not cost any more and should be helpful.
On my way to work the following day, there were asphalt ramps at every completed curb. This was asphalt that would eventually be laid down level on the road when the road was resurfaced so there were no additional material costs.
The lesson here is that when people see something that needs to be fixed, and say something to their representatives, actions can happen for the public good. When all the parts of the government -- "we the people," "the people's representatives" and the private sector contracting for "we the people" -- work together to solve a problem, government can be fast, efficient and lower cost. But if we wait till things are complete, we can blame and borrow to reconstruct something a second time doubling the cost.
I've watched over the past month and [have] not seen the fellow Marine again, but -- if he's reading this -- I want him to know that the country, the Marine Corps, community and their representatives care and can make things happen when we're all participating.
The writer was a member of the U.S. Marine corps from 1976 to 1990.
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