Kevin Clearing is the engineering manager for the Verdant County Road
Commission (VCRC). VCRC has primary responsibility for maintaining the safety of county
roads. Verdant County's population has increased by 30% in the past 10 years. This has
resulted in increased traffic flow on many secondary roads in the area. Forest Drive,
still a two lane road, has more than doubled its traffic flow during this period. It is
now one of the main arteries leading into Verdant City, an industrial and commercial
center of more than 60,000 people.
For each of the past 7 years at least one person has suffered a fatal
automobile accident by crashing into trees closely aligned along a 3 mile stretch of
Forest Drive. Many other accidents have also occurred, causing serious injuries, wrecked
cars, and damaged trees. Some of the trees are quite close to the pavement. Two law suits
have been filed against the road commission for not maintaining sufficient road safety
along this 3 three mile stretch. Both were dismissed because the drivers were going well
in excess of the 45 mph speed limit.
Other members of VCRC have been pressing Kevin Clearing to come up with
a solution to the traffic problem on Forest Drive. They are concerned about safety, as
well as law suits that may some day go against VCRC. Clearing now has a plan -- widen the
road. Unfortunately, this will require cutting down about 30 healthy, longstanding trees
along the road.
Clearing's plan is accepted by VCRC and announced to the public.
Immediately a citizen environmental group forms and registers a protest. Tom Richards,
spokesperson for the group, complains, "These accidents are the fault of careless
drivers. Cutting down trees to protect drivers from their own carelessness symbolizes the
destruction of our natural environment for the sake of human 'progress.' It's time to turn
things around. Sue the drivers if they don't drive sensibly. Let's preserve the natural
beauty and ecological integrity around us while we can."
Many letters on both sides of the issue appear in the Verdant Press,
the issue is heatedly discussed on local TV, and Tom Richards presents VCRC with a
petition to save the trees signed by 150 local citizens.
Discuss how Kevin Clearing should proceed at this point.