Oct. 28, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 12:45 PM UCT
Sure, it only looks like a sign announcing road road construction, but look a little deeper, and what you have is a sign explaining an economic theory. Triq is Maltese for street, and the Triq l'Mgarr is the main road on Gozo going between the central city of Victoria (Rabat) and the port of Mgarr, the ferry port to Malta.
Strike the European Union part of the following sentence, and try to imagine it gracing a sign announcing road construction in the United States:
"This project, part financed by the European Union, is helping to reduce economic and social disparities among citizens of the union."
What kind of a massive shift in transportation policies would it take for the Connecticut Department of Transportation to acknowledge not only that transportation is a source of economic injustice, but that we can use tax dollars to lessen the gap between rich and poor?
I bumped into this sign walking from a small village on Gozo, the second largest of the seven Maltese islands, to catch the ferry back to Malta.
I couldn't believe it at first - a government entity admitting not only that the gap between rich and poor a problem, but offering a solution to it. And mind you, this sign is in a country where mass transit is far better than most cities in America with about 400,000 people.
Malta is a place where inhabitants survive without cars because of the close proximity of work, residence and recreation, and because of the good mass transit. Not that people don't own cars here, but it is an option, not a necessity, as it is in the 50 states.
Within that one sentence expressing the need to close the gap between rich and poor is a world of difference between Europe and the United States. I can't for the life of me seeing ConnDOT writing that. I wish, because it would indicate such a massive shift in priorities.
When I talk to my elders and hear them say they think the American Dream is dead, and I read pundits who say that the American Dream is alive in Europe, I try not to despair.
But then I see that road sign. I see that the EU includes the reduction of economic and social disparities as a mission/vision statement for a road building project.
And I know we have yet another goal for ConnDOT.