Las Vegas Comes to Salem Oregon
Sorry folks, Penn and Teller aren't performing at the Convention Center and there's not a new flight at the Salem Airport. A two dollar breakfast buffet isn't in our future and neither is a hotel that looks like Paris France. It's worse. Heading north on South Commercial at Kuebler, a new digital billboard will be competing for drivers attention at that busy intersection. This is not a new concept, they have them all over the country. My initial thought when seeing it, is that it looks like a high definition jumbo tron tv screen that you see at baseball games. There isn't any ads yet, just beautiful pictures of exotic animals and one screen that advertises the billboard owner, Lamar. Now there's already a couple of ads. It's a very effective ad space that grabs your attention from about 1/4 mile down the road with the image changing every few seconds. Although it must be great for advertisers this will be horrible for pedestrians and automobile traffic at that intersection. It's a major distraction for drivers at a time when they need to be paying attention to the road. There's two lanes of traffic going up Commercial and two on Kuebler that have this billboard in plane sight. In fact, last night, when I came to a stop on Commercial and I looked back at the intersection to concentrate again on the road, I could still see the brightly lit billboard changing color in my peripheral vision. At one point, the sign turned green grabbing my attention causing me to do a double take at the signal that was still red. This is a dangerous location for another distraction to Salem drivers. Think about how it's going to be when it's raining at night. Are you going to see the bright flashing billboard or the pedestrian in the yellow parka struggling to make it across the street? It's amazing that something like this could be approved by our local governments at a time when they're putting up red light cameras all over the place and trying to ban the use of cell phones because they feel that drivers aren't paying enough attention to the road. I'm sure that advertisers will find that this is an effective way to get our citizens to pay attention to their products and this will pave the way for more jumbo trons to be built throughout the city. I fault myself for not paying close enough attention to city government and assuming that our elected leaders have the interest of the safety of our citizens in mind when they make decisions. My vision of the City of Salem is a charming town, in the beautiful Willamette Valley with sweeping views of the Cascade mountains on a clear day. Where families are safe to walk, take public transit or drive without the distraction of commercials playing on jumbo trons strategically located above major intersections. Commercial Street and Lancaster will look like Las Vegas if we allow more of these digital billboards to be built. This will be a major issue for me in the upcoming election for mayor and I plan on asking the candidates how they feel about it. Even with the distractions, it's pretty clear that an ordinance outlawing moving LED billboards or jumbo trons is the appropriate action to keep our city pedestrian friendly which will also make Salem driver friendly. I know this is a food blog so I will get off my soap box now.