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The Scoop - TDOT shows you can tell the truth
There was an amazing spectacle on the front page of Wednesday's Southern Standard.
For those who missed it, a government agency actually went so far as to admit a mistake. It's remarkable because it's so rare.
I'd like to commend TDOT, the agency which journeyed where few government entities have gone before, for its integrity. Dealing with government is one way to test your patience, but TDOT has always been quick and thorough in providing me with the information I need. That's been my first-hand experience.
The mistake in question involves the intersection to be redesigned in front of Three Star Mall. If you've been following the news, traffic flow in the entire area in front of the mall is being redone and some local residents aren't thrilled with the proposed new look.
With that background in mind, a local resident sent an email to a TDOT official to provide his feedback on the redesign plans. The TDOT official responded by inaccurately saying the city of McMinnville is behind the changes, not TDOT. This is not right at all.
Admitting mistakes can sometimes be a challenge. I don't mean to be political or take sides, but imagine if, say, the White House were to release inaccurate information. I know this would never happen, but let's play make believe.
If questioned about the mistake, the first thing our president would say would be to make a snide remark about "fake news." Then he would blame the media while never correcting the wrong information.
Like I say, this isn't a political statement. It's just something that happens. Every day. The end result is no one has access to reliable facts, the media gets hammered, and wild theories fly about what's really happening in our government.
Now let's contrast that to the TDOT approach. TDOT started by admitting the mistake and apologizing. TDOT then proceeded to set the record straight and declare that it is in charge of the road project.
TDOT went on to provide further transparency and say that it only agreed to "cut the fence" as they say to extend Magness Drive to the bypass if the city would make one concession. Traffic flow in that whole area had to be redesigned due to the high number of wrecks.
As a paper that has indeed covered a large number of wrecks in front of the mall, we here in the newsroom have long wondered why there are so many problems there. None of us has been able to pinpoint why, but if TDOT engineers say it's a design flaw, I believe it.
The bottom line is while I might not like the redesign plans, it's been explained that safety is the driving force behind them and I can accept that from people with far more expertise on the matter than me.
It's safe to say we can never expect such refreshing transparency from all levels of government, but TDOT has provided a working model for any agency that wants to try. I appreciate TDOT's honesty and dedication to providing accurate information.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.