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Cadmus, crossings, and cows, oh my!

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
November 21, 2006


There are lessons to be learned from history if you know where to look. Myth and legend can also provide insight when nothing else seems to make sense. How you look at things is also important when trying to understand current events and the behavior of elected officials.

In Leucadia clues have been left as street sign metaphors. When Leucadia streets were laid out in the mid 20th century, many of the streets were given Greek names in keeping with the Mediterranean climate. Off the west coast of Greece, Lefkada is island in the Ionian sea, where the famed poet Sappho leapt to her death from the famed Leucadian cliffs.

Two weeks ago Encinitas City Councilman Jerome Stocks, decided to grab a little attention, by floating a proposal to relocate the "at-grade" rail crossing at Leucadia Blvd, a quarter mile south on Vulcan, to create an "at-grade" crossing to connect with Cadmus, by way of a 5 way crossing, with two westbound left-turn lanes, one westbound right turn lane onto Coast Highway 101, and two eastbound lanes onto Vulcan.

A dedicated left-turn lane onto eastbound Cadmus from south bound 101, and a right turn lane onto eastbound Camus turn what was a major intersection into three T intersections. Traffic at the new crossing would still be subject to delay due to Coaster, Amtrak, and freight traffic.

So why would Councilman Stocks suggest relocating a dangerous at grade railroad crossing without removing the hazardous conditions, knowing the Public Utilities Commission opposes new "at-grade" crossings. This being Leucadia, I figure might as well as look to the source for answers, so I went back to the Greek. Little did I know questionable city planning was at the center of the Cadmus myth.

Cadmus, the legendary grandson of Poseidon, was the son of King Agenor. When his sister Europa was abducted by Zeus, Cadmus and his brothers were instructed by the king to search for their sister, not returning until they found her. They never found her.

On his quest, Cadmus consulted the oracle at Delphi who told him to abandon the search for his sister, and instead follow a cow he would meet until it dropped from exhaustion, and on that spot build a city. He did, and the city of Thebes owes it's existence to that tired cow, and Cadmus's abandonment of his sister.

This part of the Cadmus legend is the perfect analogy for the Jerome Stocks attempt at planning. Obviously Councilman Stocks is is playing the role of Cadmus, Europa is elected office, and money is the sacred cow. The oracle must be a paid political consultant. The analogy stops there. Stocks is not trying to build a city, merely redesign the transportation grid in coastal Leucadia, using antiquated thinking which fails to mitigate traffic problems resulting from over population, over development and a lack of comprehensive mass transit planning in coastal North San Diego County.

Stocks, currently the chair of the North County Transit District Board of Directors, seems more about moving cars than moving people. As the NCTD representative for Encinitas his promotion of a crossing at Cadmus come across not a leadership, but shortsighted political opportunism.

Transportation planning should be more than following the sacred cow of abandonment.

It doesn't take an oracle to see the answer is to lower the tracks through Leucadia, as a way of upgrading rail service, reducing noise, and improving automobile traffic flow.

NCTD needs to find the money and drop the tracks.

Anything else is manure.

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