Dear Johnnie: I have been noticing that many of the fire hydrants in town have been freshly painted. These are mostly along the main roads. The bright red-and-white hydrants are cheery to see. Is the city planning to paint the rest of them soon?
Another issue I have been wondering about is the parking along Main Street between First and Sixth avenues. Downtown Main Street is narrow with a lot of distractions and obstacles for motorists. Should the people parking along that stretch of Main Street be opening their doors into traffic? Isn’t there a law that they should be waiting for the traffic to clear first? Some folks do wait for a break in traffic to open their doors but they stand between their car and the moving traffic, which seems dangerous. — Curious
Dear Curious: You probably have noticed those freshly painted fire hydrants in the central part of town, roughly from Third to Ninth avenues, and Collyer to Gay streets, because those have been painted in the past year and a half.
Chris Kampmann, distribution and collection supervisor for Public Works & Natural Resources, is overseeing the effort. He told me that painting the rest of the city’s fire hydrants is the city’s long-term goal.
And what is “long-term”?
“That’s yet to be seen,” he said. “There are almost 3,400 hydrants in the city. We’ve got limited funds, so we can’t go too crazy with it. We’ve identified multiple neighborhoods that need it. When the weather and the budget work together, we get it done.”
The new color scheme is a red body with a white top and caps. That’s similar to the old color scheme, but with white caps and a brighter red. Some hydrants have blue tops; those are designated sites for maintenance and for use by contractors to fill up water trucks. Yes, that water is metered.
Finally, while cheery fire hydrants make people happy, Kampmann reminded me that maintenance is more important.
As for opening doors into traffic on Main Street, I found the following in the city’s Model Traffic Code:
“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic; nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”