The “zipper merge,” on the surface, is a sound concept that doesn’t account for human nature (“Why can’t Minnesotans figure out how to zipper merge?” StarTribune.com, March 29). Most of us know which lane is open via signage or experience and tend to queue in the thru-lane. The result is a conflict between the drivers who are in the “right” lane and are possessive of their position and those who use zipper merge as an opportunity to bypass some traffic.
The best solution would be to get rid of the thru-lane and force both lanes to zipper-merge into an artificial lane constricted by traffic cones in the middle. That way there would be no lane advantage and, in lighter traffic conditions, tend to slow traffic to construction zone limits.
Jim Wacek, Rogers
DRIVING IN MINNESOTA, PART TWO
We spy a stop sign. Seems we’re the only ones who care about it.
When did stop signs become a thing of the past?
Something to be ignored?
Who enforces the sign-runner? Nobody in law enforcement.
Is it OK if we skip through the sign like everyone else does on an hourly, daily basis?
This common scene takes place not far from our home, and we constantly watch these people come up to the sign, make their left or right turn, and — zoom — they are on their way.
The city we live in has been notified of this situation/problem, but hands are tied, apparently. The police have been written letters, to no avail; nothing has happened.
We add that this corner is a school bus stop with many different times of arrival and departures of children in the area. It is not important enough for a second look from the people of the city or the police officers. There have been two accidents at this intersection, but, hey, nobody cares, right?
Dave and Alexia Cody, Hopkins
DRIVING IN MINNESOTA, PART THREE
Law does protect pedestrians, but common sense also legally applies
A March 29 letter writer (“Pedestrian safety: Remember your physics”) should be happy to know street-crossing pedestrians can do wrong: They may not suddenly leave a place of safety and go into the path of a vehicle too close to yield (Minnesota Statute 169.21, Subd. 2, Pedestrian rights in absence of a signal).
My experience suggests there is distracted walking, crossers looking at phones or other things, or dawdling their way across rather than tending to the business at hand, safely and efficiently crossing a street. As a pedestrian, my experience suggests some drivers intentionally threaten pedestrians by maintaining or increasing their speed.
In a great many cases, if a driver slows a little and the pedestrian, seeing that, proceeds to cross, the crossing is completed safely with minimal disruption of either. I thank the many drivers and pedestrians who interact cooperatively and responsibly.
John Kaplan, St. Paul
DRIVING IN MINNESOTA, PART FOUR
Fixing the potholes might relieve some of that lane-use conflict
It’s been my experience in driving that the right lane has more potholes than the left. They often begin their development where the right lane meets the shoulder and then widen into the lane. (Though I’m not an engineer, I wonder if this phenomenon has to do with traffic patterns, truck drivers’ lane preferences, people entering the roadway from the right, and perhaps even how roads are constructed.) It may be the pothole problem that has prompted some drivers to gravitate to the left lane, much to the consternation of state Sen. John Jasinski and others who have complained about “slowpokes” in the left lane. (“Fines for slower left-lane drivers?” March 13, and several subsequent items in Readers Write.)
I suggest fixing the roads as soon as possible, and see if this doesn’t alleviate some of the road tensions.
Lisa Wersal, Vadnais Heights
Publishing these two views was unhelpful, readers gently suggest
“Have you no sense of decency?” When an “opinion” piece like the one offered by Scott Jennings is printed in your paper (“Democrats, give it a rest, and some mea culpas, too,” March 29), I hark back to the days of a real “witch hunt” conducted by U.S. Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy. Why do you give oxygen to this type of “opinion”? The simple act of publishing this piece gives legitimacy to another “opinion” by the hand-picked, partisan Attorney General William Barr.
Until the full findings of the Mueller report are made public, this type of rhetoric does nothing to bring our divided nation back together but, rather, hardens both sides further. Additionally, to implicate former President Barack Obama in this “opinion piece” further delegitimizes any rationale put forward by the writer.
Daniel Humes, St. Paul
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I have heard and read a great amount of ridiculousness in the last two and a half years. Yet nothing made me laugh as hard as Jennings’ commentary. He states how great the president is, recycles the same reasoning for all of the ill will toward the current administration, then tells us how we all need to start the forgetting, forgiving and start healing the country. The thing is, Mr. Jennings, it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses and realize collusion is the least of our worries with this administration.
Tracey Larson, St. Louis Park
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With regard to the March 29 commentary “Trump’s worst actions don’t require collusion,” written by Harold Meyerson, executive editor of the American Prospect, the Star Tribune’s opinion editors should have added that the American Prospect is a far-left-of-center organization. And, based on their almost daily diatribes, they should have stated that “this commentary does indeed reflect the views of the Star Tribune Editorial Board.”
Len Colson, Plymouth
MNDOT’S STUDENT VENDORS
Use of St. Francis high-school shop class is wage theft by another name
A front-page article on March 20 described how a high-school shop class in St. Francis has taken on manufacturing contracts from the state (“Student-run business, real-world work”). Erik Trost, the founder of the program is quoted: “Nobody can tell me how we can legally pay the students. I need help to make this happen.” Mr. Trost is on the right track, but the problem is even more serious. Rather than questioning the legality of paying students for manufacturing work, we should be questioning the legality of not paying people for their work.
This extends to every unpaid internship in the state. Experience is not compensation; it is education. Our country has agreed that education should be free, an American value with roots in our colonial days. But now, somehow, we have conned young people into believing it is fair that, in exchange for doing our work, we will … allow them to do our work? This is an education in exploitation.
Work without compensation has a name — wage theft — and this wage theft is apparently how we expect the Minnesota Department of Transportation to balance its budget. How about our Legislature provides good-paying jobs by fully funding public infrastructure, rather than cutting costs by extorting labor from our young people?
Joseph Cherney, Northfield