Monday, September 30, 2013

Andy Hall and Google Earth

A match made in Heaven — for folks looking to disparage the Virginia Flaggers?

Well, let’s see. There’s been much made over the "woods" and the "trees" at the location making the flag impossible to see. Andy also — with what passes for humor with him, I guess — noted, "Good luck moving the overpass." He was referring to the overpass that lies just to the north of the flag’s location and hides the site from view for southbound motorists..

The problem with that is, way back when the project was first generating publicity, Susan Hathaway told the Times Dispatch that the flag would be visible to northbound motorists…  She didn’t explain what would obscure the view for southbound motorists — the overpass — because, presumably, she didn’t want to give such an enormous clue to the location.

When I pointed out Susan’s comment, references to "moving the overpass" miraculously dried up.

So then, it was the trees or nuthin’. Andy posted these graphics. If you can’t read his yellow caption, it sez, "Flag behind these trees."

Flag Behind These Trees

He also includes this comment with the image below: "If they’ve going to make the flag visible from the northbound lanes of I-95 in any meaningful way, they’re going to have to cut a lot more than the narrow strip directly in front of their leased plot. Clearing the trees directly in front only makes the flag visible for a second or two was you come abreast of it, roughly 75-90 degrees off to the left from the driver’s view looking ahead."


What Andy seems to forget is that Google Earth photos sometimes aren’t updated for three years. The Google Earth image of the leased property is not current. But even more pertinent than that, is this: Andy’s triangle of necessary tree-clearing and the approximate location of the flag pole are way off.

I have some Google Earth images and photographs with info for folks to consider, too.  Let’s start with this one, just to get our bearings.


What Andy doesn’t convey to his readers is that a great many of the trees showing in his GE images have been cut down. You can tell from the above image that the tree cover is substantially thinner than his "Flag-behind-these-trees" image.  The image above was shot, BTW, from the Bermuda Hundred Road overpass that lies roughly perpendicular to the Interstate. It is looking southwest.

Looking South From Overpass Embankment

This image of the Dedication contains a number of interesting elements. It was taken from the overpass embankment, looking south (the backhoe is a reliable element for orienting the viewer). Most of the trees that were on the wooded lot in the Google Earth images are gone, daddy, gone. We can see the fence that marks the VDOT right of way. According to one Flagger, structures have to be twenty feet back from the right of way. In this case, it’s not just the pole, but the flag itself that  is ubject to this requirement. Thus, add fifteen feet to the 20-foot clearance, and the pole stands about 35 feet back from the fence.

Through the remaining trees around the perimeter of the cleared area, one can see I-95 to the left and the grassy area and some buildings on the right, which are clearly discernible in the Google Earth images. (My image below is north looking south.

This puts a whole new way of looking at Andy’s gigantic un-overcomable tree argument…

More Likely Location of Flagpole

What we see is that most of the trees have already been removed. Looking at the Dedication photo, and the Times Dispatch photo, we see that most of the remaining large trees that would obstruct the view of the flag are on the private-property side of the VDOT fence. (Andy’s location of the flag pole is in error, as well. It is not backed up to the overpass embankment, as he depicts,.)

That being the case, once the remaining trees are removed from the location, northbound travelers will have no problem at all seeing that big, beautiful flag welcoming them to the Capital of the Confederacy!

Welcome To Richmond!

On The Web: