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Status: Complete

Traveler's Friend

Spread out for almost half a mile
along the banks of the Ohio River, the
twisted pieces of rusted metal look like
the junkman's answer to Lady Bird
Johnson's beautification campaign. In
fact, the giant junkyard is a painstak-
ing attempt by a new federal agency to
re-create the "Silver Bridge" that once
connected Kanauga, Ohio, and Point
Pleasant, W. VA., and determine why
the bridge collapsed last December, car-
rying 46 people to their deaths in the
river's numbing waters. The ugly jig-
saw along the Ohio may have been the
most visible effort, but it is only part
of what the little-known National Trans-
portation Safety Board has done in its
first year in order to make it safer for
Americans to travel about the U. S.

In recent months, the board has re-
buked railroads for an accident rate
that has jumped 71% in six years. Ap-
plying to a railroad accident the so-
phisticated techniques used to determine
the causes of plane crashes - an obvi-
ous but hitherto unheard-of innovation
- it has found the "probable cause" (a
switchman's error) of a collision in New
York City last year. After the founder-
ing of a 60-year-old freighter on Lake
Huron in 1966 (28 died), it ordered
the Coast Guard to intensify inspection
of older ships plying the Great Lakes.
Even a proposal to widen the breadth
of trucks by six inches (to 102 inches)
has not escaped the board's eye; unless
highways are correspondingly widened,
the accident risk would also increase.

Indeed, as it celebrated its first an-
niversay last week, it seemed odd that
until a year ago, the U. S. had no sin-
gle agency to police the safety of its
largest single industry—transportation.
Under the chairmanship of Joseph
O'Connell Jr., 62, a tax lawyer who
has been in and out of government
since 1933, the safety board has not
only imposed some order on the safety

[black and white photograph of: JOSEPH O'CONNELL
Bridge between economics and safety.]


work of Washington's raft of regulato-
ry agencies; it has also confounded the
skeptics who thought it unequal to its
herculean task.

Looking for a Truce. The board's
chief job is to bring a truce in what
O'Connell calls the "war between eco-
nomics and safety"—a war that until
recently has been formidably one-sided.
"We've found people too occupied with
making money and getting another pas-
senger aboard the plane," says O'Con-
nell, "or patching things up till the
steering wheel falls off. There hasn't
been enough affirmative interest in safe-
ty." With blunt language operators and
manufacturers have rarely heard be-
fore, the agency has indicated that
G. M.'s Allison Division was careless in
the manufacture of a propeller which
tore loose on an airliner that crashed
in Ohio last year (dead: 38) and has
pointed to managerial sloppiness as the
real root of a Frontier Airlines crash
in Colorado in which the pilot and co-
pilot, the plane's only occupants, died.
At week's end, the safety board dis-
patched a special team to Texas to
investigate the crash of a Braniff Inter-
national Electra, with 84 aboard, dur-
a heavy thunderstorm.

With a 275-man permanent staff and
a miniscule budget of $4,700,000, the
board is inadequate to police all safety
abuses. Instead, it may play the role of
institutional gadfly. It's a hortatory
role," observes O'Connell, "but I prefer
it that way."

Victory for Mrs. Vel

Few northern cities have more sharp-
ly segregated housing conditions than
Milwaukee, where de facto barriers for
years have walled Negroes into the in-
ner core. And last summer and fall,
few cities seemed less likely to do any-
thing about the problem.

For 200 days last year, black dem-
onstrators led by the Rev. James Grop-
pi, 37, a Milwaukee-born Italian-Amer-
ican, paraded from the ghetto into the
Polish-occupied South Side and the
city's other ethnic sections to demand
a city open-housing ordinance. Negroes
constitute only 10% of the city's 781,
600 population, and for a time the
marches threatened to polarize white
opinion against the Groppians, who
were greeted on the South Sie with
abuse and flying bottles.

Gradually, however, Negro militancy
paid off. White merchants, disturbed by
a black Christmas-shopping boycott,
helped to pressure the Common Coun-
cil into enacting an open-occupancy
statute that matched a state law and cov-
ered some 33% of the city's housing
units. When Congress last month passed
the federal open-housing bill in the af-
termath of the riot-commission report
and Martin Luther King's assassination,
Mayor Henry Maier asked the council
for an ordinance to keep pace with the
federal law.

Even that did not seem enough to

[black and white photograph of: MRS. PHILLIPS
Now to enforce it.]

Mrs. Vel Phillips, 44, a slight Negro al-
derman who has labored for six years
for council action to break down seg-
regated housing. Last week, with the
aid of seven men newly elected to the
19-member council, Mrs. Phillips
pushed through a law even stiffer than
the new federal statute. While the fed-
eral law will cover some 80% of the
nation's housing by 1970, the Milwau-
kee measure, effective immediately,
grants far fewer exceptions. The ques-
tion now is whether the city, in the
face of inevitable white backlash, can ef-
fectively enforce the ordinance.

George's Asphalt Jungle

George Wallace's third-party quest
for the presidency has captured so many
hearts and spleens that by last week he
was already on the November ballot in
16 states. Yet a briar patch was grow-
ing in his own home state. His rep-
utation is built not only on the sands
of segregation but on a claim of bed-
rock honesty as well. "The books are
always open," he liked to brag about
his days as Alabama Governor. Now
an angry Alabamian has opened the
books in federal court.

The brush of scandal is tarring Wal-
lace cronies with a charge that asphalt
to patch Alabama roads costs the state
$2,000,000 a year more than it ought
to, with the implication that some of
this money goes into Wallace campaign
coffers. Claiming that it was unable to
sell any of its asphalt to the state, the
Waugh Asphalt Co. sued Alabama
Finance Director Seymore Trammell,
who manages Wallace's presidential
campaign as well as state purchasing,
along with 24 firms and state-appoint-
ed "sales agents." It charged them with
rigging prices, promoting monopoly and
breaking state and federal laws.

The Waugh Co. said that its bids

TIME, MAY 10, 1968

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