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The Problems.
I Heavy Freeway Traffic... 'high-risk' drivers stand out from the crowd!
Introduction. 
Road Accidents...
Policing...
Governments...
Solutions???
Objectives.
The Website...
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Introduction.
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The Industrialized Nations of the world pay a very heavy price each year for their love affair with the motor car.  To use one example, the USA... the world's largest car market... in the 1990's alone Road Accidents claimed over 400,000 lives... with at least a further 4,000,000 being permanently or seriously injured... and the final bill? a staggering US$1,500,000,000,000. [One and a half Trillion Dollars.]  Not even the sort of figures you would expect in a major war... let alone the price that ordinary citizens have to pay, simply for going about their everyday business.  [Article: The Trouble with America?]
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High though these figures may appear... a great deal has been done over the past few decades to reduce the number of road fatalities: [UK: 1966 = 7,985... 2006 = 3,172] despite a huge increase in the number of vehicles.  Work done by... Governments, in passing legislation... Engineers, building better roads... Manufacturers, designing safer cars... Doctors, improving emergency medicine... and countless others have all made significant contributions to Road Safety.  No doubt steady progress will continue in all these important areas.
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However... despite the combined efforts of many groups it would appear that the opening decade of the 21st century is set to claim just as many victims as the last decade of the 20th century: [U.S.A. 2000-2006 = 298,508 fatalities.] Worldwide... approx. 1.2 million and rising.  If this number of people were being killed in any other way it would lead to wide spread panic and a National Emergency... but because we are so used to hearing about road accidents... they are hardly even considered newsworthy.  
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Industrialised countries... have spent a fortune on new roads and safer vehicles... and must now address the issue of 'driver behaviour'.  For Developing countries... building modern roads and buying millions of new vehicles is simply not an option.  With limited resources, they will need to find more innovative solutions.  So, by a totally different route, they still end up at the same issue... drivers!  [Article: The Trouble with Developing Countries?]
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Road Accidents...
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happen for a lot of different reasons, like... adverse weather conditions... poor road layout, signage, construction or maintenance... unroadworthy vehicles... a lack of policing... poor training... fatigue... bad habits common to the prevailing Road Culture... one-off mistakes by low-risk drivers... and finally, the most common reason... drivers who cause accidents because of a pattern of high-risk behaviour which has been allowed to develop and continue unchecked over a period of time.
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The Problems???  Many people won't even agree on what the problems really are: [i.e. exceeding speed limits v driving excessively fast] what works: what doesn't: what should be done: [i.e. more speed cameras v scrap speed cameras] what the motivation is: [road safety v revenue] or what information can be trusted.  What we do know... is that we now have a very large number of people [maybe 2million???] driving around in unregistered vehicles, with no MOT's, Tax or Insurance... breaking every rule in the book... sometimes, literally, getting away with murder... and the Authorities spend their time issuing millions of tickets to the law-abiding majority for minor infractions of the rules.  Only in the sick world of 'New Labour' could such a thing be happening!  The present system is an absolute joke... and something needs to change. 
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At Road Supervisors... we are particularly concerned with the... number one contributor to road accidents, and that is drivers... their 'Attitudes' and their subsequent 'Behaviour'.  This is the one aspect of road safety where the Authorities have failed to make any real progress.  The bottom line is... it doesn't really matter how well you construct Roads... or how safely you build Vehicles... if the person behind the steering wheel has a bad attitude and their behaviour is out of control... you are going to have problems.
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It is probably fair to say, none of us are perfect drivers, 100% of the time... most of us break some of the rules... some of the time... and we all make the odd mistake.  But despite this... many drivers manage to cover tens of thousands of miles over many years without becoming involved in an accident: ['low-risk' drivers.]  It is not simply the breaking of rules which is important... it is the context in which they are broken that really matters... it is this which determines just how much danger or inconvenience a driver is creating for other road users.  [Article: Are Drivers the real Problem?]
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Low-Risk...
Despite what the Authorities would have us believe... your average driver is not dicing with death every time they stray over the speed limit.  Statistically, for each individual, fatal accidents are quite a rare event.  As a Nation... the UK has about 1 fatality for every 100million miles we drive.  Or, roughly... 1 fatality per year for every 10,000 drivers.  Or, to put it another way... if you drove around doing 10,000 miles a year... for 10,000 years: [x 365 days = 3.65million days,] you could expect to have 1 fatal accident.  That means that an average driver will only be caught out by a very unusual incident... set of circumstances... or lapse of concentration.... and, there is nothing in their day to day behaviour which is inherently dangerous.
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Anyone who drives a vehicle... could be involved in an accident... but, the biggest problems are undoubtedly caused by a small minority of the most 'serious and persistent' offenders: ['high-risk' drivers.]  It is often quoted that certain groups, like young or illegal drivers, will be 10X more likely to have an accident as experienced drivers: [take the worst 10% out of the equation and the average accident rate for the remaining 90% goes up considerably.]  But that is on average... within these high-risk groups are very high-risk individuals... basically, the worst of the worst.  
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Article.   Safer driving through reflective thinking The author argues that the focus on skill which has dominated approaches to dealing with driving behaviour should be reconsidered, and other aspects given prominence.  [More Articles]
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You can never know exactly when an accident is going to happen... they are by nature unpredictable events.  However... gather enough 'Information', and not only could you get a good idea as to where and when they are most likely to happen... you could also develop a very good insight as to the who and the why... and that forms a very good basis for prevention.  
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As an example... in most cases, where someone causes a serious road accident because they were overtaking in a dangerous manner... this is not some 'one off' aberration.  The driver would probably have done something very similar many times in the past, but got away with it... the "accident" is in fact the result of a pattern of reckless... 'high-risk' behaviour which had been allowed to develop and continue unchecked over a period of time.  
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High-Risk...
Anyone, from any age group, with any amount of experience, or from any demographic could be a perfectly good, safe driver... or could be a complete maniac.  Having said that... there are certain groups who can be considered high-risk... or very high-risk... and within these groups... there will be the worst of the worst.  For the average driver a fatal accident might be a once in 10,000 years event... for a bad driver, a once in 1,000 years event... while the worst of the worst flirt with death on a daily basis.  In the most extreme cases, like... joy-riders or criminals trying to outrun the police... death and destruction becomes a likely outcome within minutes.  Some high-risk groups...
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  • Young drivers... especially in the first few years after they pass their driving test.  Are more likely to take drink or drugs... prone to peer pressure... have a tendency to take risks... and generally, have poor hazard perception skills... can be a deadly combination.
  • Elderly drivers... our chances of having an accident increase as we get older... general health starts to deteriorate... eyesight starts to fail... reactions slow down... etc.
  • Commercial drivers... for various reasons do have a higher rate of accidents... under pressure to meet deadlines... on unfamiliar roads... not their own vehicle... high mileage... long hours... are tired... stressed... etc.
  • Bike riders... of every description are high-risk because they are vulnerable in any kind of accident... whether it is their fault or not.  Can also be caught out by potholes full of water... or oil on the road surface.
  • Illegal drivers... those who buy unroadworthy vehicles and don't register, tax or insure them... which could be... illegal immigrants... banned drivers... those who have never taken a driving test... those engaged in criminal activities... or simply for financial gain.
  • Legal drivers... who have all their documentation in order... have experience... but for some reason have just developed a high-risk style of driving... whether they are bad, mad or just plain anti-social types... who think the rules just don't apply to them.
If an Accident was due to... an uncharacteristic error... a lapse in concentration... or an unpredictable set of circumstances... then there probably wasn't much you could have done to prevent it.  If it was due to any pattern of 'high-risk' behaviour... then there probably was!  Every individual is highly visible... what they do, they do in a public place, for all to see.  What they do, can have a devastating affect on anyone in close proximity... and that means if they are sharing your 'road-space'... then what they do is your legitimate concern.  
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The 'high-risk' pyramid.  Road fatalities sit at the top of a statistical pyramid.  For every fatality there will be X-number of serious injuries: Y-number of slight injuries: Z-number of minor prangs, with no injuries: it is like a mathematical formula.  [As an example, say... 1,000 fatalities: =10,000 serious injuries, =100,000 slight injuries, =1,000,000 minor prangs.]  As you move down this pyramid you will find an even larger number of 'near misses'... and at the very foundation of the pyramid you will find... 'high-risk' behaviour.  Cut this ' high-risk' activity by 50%... and all the accidents, injuries and deaths will automatically fall by similar amounts.
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Policing...
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When the Police hand out tickets for Traffic Violations... or Speed Cameras are installed... it is an attempt to deter this 'high-risk' behaviour.  The Problem is... Police are few in number and see only a tiny fraction of what actually goes on... and Cameras can never make objective assessments about unsafe driving.  'Safe' driving is about how you Interact with all other road users... and who better to form an opinion than those you share the roads with?
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Effective Policing means... you do not have to directly trade accidents, injuries and deaths... for fines, bans and imprisonment... it is quite possible to have low rates of both.  What you need is a higher degree of 'compliance' to the rules of the road... when it really matters... and that means when drivers are 'Interacting' with other road users.  [Research shows... the main reason that drivers comply to the rules is... the inevitability of being caught... rather than the severity of any sentence.]

Urban Traffic.

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Ideally, Policing is done with the consent and cooperation of the law-abiding majority.  If it becomes a common perception that the Police are just... going for easy targets... trying to fill quotas... or raise revenue... support evaporates and relations between the police and the public can be damaged.  If police are spending their time targeting dangerous and illegal drivers... and dealing with emergency situations... then the relationship between the police and the general public should be one of mutual support.
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Road Culture.  Police say that they aim to make speeding as "socially unacceptable" as drink-driving... but when this is done badly it has the opposite effect.  Getting a speeding ticket and having points on your licence is now so common that they have become "socially acceptable".  People will openly say that they have them... knowing it says nothing about them, their driving, their attitude or their behaviour.  The practice of 'point-swapping' is now so common... that it says a lot more about the state of the system than it says about the individuals involved in it.
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Drivers need to know... the 'Rules of the Road'... and for their own protection... they also need to know the 'Law of the Land'!  Rightly or wrongly... for many people... the 'Law' is no longer seen as something which is there to protect them... but something that they need protecting from!!  The Police do not just concentrate on the worst offenders... they go for easy targets.  So, even if you think you are a really safe driver... it could still be you that ends up getting a ticket!  Those that get justice are those that can afford it.  If you can't afford a top Lawyer... visit this website to see what an experienced Traffic Cop has to say about protecting your Licence.  UK Driving Secrets.
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Governments...
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When it comes to the issue of improving road safety... the biggest single problem is Governments.  Far from being the solver of problems... they are actually the creator of problems... by what they do... and by what they fail to do.  2008: there are about 2million illegal drivers in the UK... and responsibility for this can be fairly laid at the door of New Labour... this is their creation.  This figure has risen sharply... and Labour are culpable in a whole range of ways, from... presiding over a huge surge in illegal immigration... creating an unending supply of cheap unroadworthy vehicles: [failing to police the MOT system] relying on automated punishments, like speed cameras: [which illegal drivers can avoid] reducing the numbers of traffic police: [less chance of being caught] reducing the level of fines... allowing serial offenders to escape punishment time and time again... etc. etc.  And at the same time... if you comply with all the legal requirements... you will get hit at every turn.
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We do not believe for one moment that any Government is just going to implement the Concept we have outline on this website.  Any Country that was considering a radical new system such as this should go through a very lengthy process of... thought, debate, consultation and refinement... involving all the various stakeholders... Police, Courts, Insurance Companies, Manufactures, Motoring Organisations, Safety Campaigners, the general Public, etc... so that they produce a system that all groups find acceptable: [every industrialized country has a system of Income Tax... but no two systems are identical.]

The Capitol Building, Washington D.C.

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Hence, it is fully acknowledged... there are many different options... and every single point we cover in the following Concept/Plan could be endlessly debated and discussed... we do not claim for one moment that this is... the best possible Plan.  What follows is just one example... to demonstrate how it could be done and why we believe it would work.  Any final Plan could be implemented in stages... over a extended period of time... and could end up as something quite different.  [Article: Active Citizenship... One Small Step: One Giant Leap.]
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Governments... cannot solve these complex Problems with simplistic solutions! [i.e. just using speed cameras.]  It is our belief... with all the resources and expertise available to a modern Government the road safety issue could be dealt with in a far more sophisticated way.  Modern technology offers a whole range of new possibilities for the coming decades... Governments do need to get ambitious and 'think the unthinkable'... they should examine all their options... and hopefully, the end result will not be the imposition of some multi-billion dollar solution... that won't work... and nobody wants.
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Drivers.  While most drivers might agree with the general concept of making the roads safer... they are highly resistant to change.  But, there can be no improvements without change... if you just continue doing exactly the same things as you did before... the results will be a foregone conclusion.  If you only make a few small changes to a few things... any improvements will also be small.  Significant improvement will only happen when some aspect of the driving process radically changes.  So, if something has to change... what changes would you be prepared to live with?  [Article: Who should support this type of System?]
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Solutions???
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If you really want to see a significant reduction in road fatalities... you must be prepared to approach the problem in a radically different way.  The same old approach, guarantees the same old results!  A successful system will need to achieve... a general increase in standards right across the board... a significant reduction in every kind of high-risk behaviour... the ability to target and change some aspects of the Road Culture... the ability to identify any areas of the road network that are contributing to inter-driver conflict.  Some solutions on offer... how do they measure up to objectives???
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  • Safer vehicles... better roads... and improved medicine... all a given.  Much has been done in these areas and will continue to do so: [but these issues are not being covered here.]
  • More/fewer speed cameras... there is no real evidence to suggest these works despite a load of dodgy statistics by the Government.  The downsides are just too numerous to mention.  [See Article: Speed Cameras... Life Savers or Cash Cows?]
  • Speeding signs... electronic warnings which flash speeding drivers work much better... they have an immediate effect... and don't cost drivers cash or points.  May reduce some high-risk behaviour.
  • More police patrols... these have a 'halo' effect... everyone close to them are on their best behaviour... so you get an immediate reduction in any high-risk activity... but drivers resume their normal behaviour the second a patrol turns off.
  • Unmarked police cars... which can be very effective at catching drivers... but are not a very good deterrent.  Also very unpopular... people seem to feel that they are a bit sneaky and underhanded for some reason.
  • Road engineering... speed humps, chicanes, etc.  Cost millions to install... just to try and control a very small minority of drivers.  Not good for... pollution, fuel consumption, wear and tear, or emergency vehicles.
  • Lower/higher speed limits... if drivers flout existing speed limits they will also do it with new, lower limits.  If they drive dangerously... they will continue to drive dangerously.  Speed limits do not determine whether a someone drives safely or not.
  • Education in schools... a 17-year-old may undergo many hours of driver training... but go on to break the rules anyway... why would anyone think that giving a few hours tuition to someone even younger would be more successful?
  • More training for new drivers... limited impact... drivers only start becoming high-risk once they have gained their independence... which is usually after they have passed their driving test.  Some sort of graduated licence scheme would be more effective.
  • Tests for older drivers... the chances of us having an accident do increase as we start to age... but this varies a great deal between individuals.  Better to try and identify those individuals who are starting to become a problem... and work on a solution for them.
  • Media campaigns... some campaigns can have some impact... but generally bombarding every driver with the same simplistic messages, like 'speed kills' achieves very little.  
  • Alco-breathalysers... might work, but should only be put into the vehicle of someone with a serious drink-driving problem/conviction.  No reason why everyone should be put to this sort of expense and inconvenience.
  • New technologies, like... ISA, EVI, V2V Information, black-boxes, self-driving cars... all are incredibly expensive.  Very effective for monitoring, controlling or punishing law-abiding majority... not much good against the persistent evaders and criminals.
  • Number-plate recognition... with instant checks against a data-base... would help to target the problem of illegal drivers... but that could be done already if there was any political willpower.
  • Vague ideas, about... better education, more compliance, higher standards, targeting dangerous driving, changing the road culture, etc. etc.  Objectives that we would certainly agree with, but... the devil is in the detail... how do you achieve these things?
None of these afore mentioned strategies are likely to be a great success... they can cost, literally, billions... don't target any particular problems... they try to give technology a job it isn't capable of doing... and undermines the relationship between the police and the general public.  What we really need is a system that... doesn't cost a fortune... can target any problem... and that has technology, drivers and the police all working together for a common goal.  Drivers may be the major problem... but drivers also need to be an integral part of the solution.  
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[See Article: New Technologies for the Roads...]
[See Article: Strategies for reducing Road Fatalities...]
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The Road Supervisor Concept...
is both 'radical and innovative'... and could achieve all the necessary objectives to ensure a significant reduction in road fatalities.  This type of system would support the law-abiding majority... and target dangerous and illegal drivers.  Could focus on any kind of problems, offences, or demographics... would use a multi-strategy approach to change aspects of the Road Culture... and identify any sections of the road network which was contributing to inter-driver conflict... creating a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.
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This type of system would... empower a large number of ordinary people so they could act as a good example on the roads... be of assistance to people in difficulties... act as a deterrent to bad behaviour... build good relations by working with the authorities... and help identify any high-risk individuals.  Once identified, a whole range of strategies, based on... 'targeted' education, social pressure and enforcement... could be used to ensure these drivers ceased their 'high-risk' behaviour [in many cases, before they caused a serious accident] and developed a style of driving that was consistently... 'Safe, Considerate and Courteous'. 
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On the down-side... people don't like change... and many will simply attack any new ideas regardless of their merits.  Inevitably, we will hear cries of... Fascism, Big Brother, invasion of privacy, and violation of human rights!  In reply, we would say... it is the absolute opposite of Fascism or Big Brother if you empower people rather than the State... it can't be considered 'privacy' if you are doing it in a public place... and you have to balance one individuals right to go about their business... with another's right not to be splattered across the public highway.
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Objectives...
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Our objectives... may be simple ones, but achieving them will be anything but easy.  Our role will be strictly limited... so any success will require a lot of Support... by a lot of People... over an extended period of Time.  People often support ineffective Government policies because they believe the only alternative is to do nothing.  There are alternatives!  Our objectives...
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  • in the long-term... to reduce the current level of road accidents, injuries and deaths... by engaging drivers and communities in a pro-active way.
  • to develop and promote a road safety system which is based on the concept of using 'Information' as the driving force for change... instead of various forms of 'Punishment'.
  • to develop a system which utilizes the power of the Internet... Information technology: and modern Communications... to harness the skills and knowledge of experienced drivers.
  • to develop a range of strategies for dealing with the problem of high-risk individuals, based on... motivation: deterrents: targeted education: social pressure: enforcement: and punishment.
  • to develop a multi-strategy approach for dealing with the problems of high-risk road cultures.
  • to create a road environment which is safer, less aggressive, more courteous, more co-operative, more enjoyable to drive in... with less speed cameras, speed humps, etc.
  • to put all the various options into the public domain... where they can be scrutinized and compared with any other system.
  • and to develop a social networking website for discussing innovative ideas concerning new technology and the road user.
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The Website...
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The following Sections... [linking from The Concept]... cover all the details concerning... identifying specific problems associated with individual drivers... strategies for rectifying problems... which drivers could become a part of the solution... what Information to gather... how Information could be gathered... who would have access to Information... etc. etc. etc.
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The Concept... also covers many other aspects of the driving experience... i.e. Education: Training: Licences: Points System: Courses: Raising Standards: Enforcement Policies: Road Culture: etc. broken up into 9 different sections giving an outline... then 9 sections covering the issues in more detail.  There are also Articles relating to other aspects of driving, like... Road Pricing: Traffic Congestion: and Terrorism... looking at how a Road Supervisors type scheme might affect these issues.
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Each Sections... contains an Introduction and a brief Outline... if more in-depth Information is required... just click [Details] once into that section.  Interspersed... you will find links to numerous related Articles: ['Outside Articles' are mainly on the Drivers.com website... which in turn may be linked to even more articles on the subject.]
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Some Information... may appear under several different sections but written from a slightly different perspective... this is mainly because people do not read a website in its entirety, the same way that they read a book.  Instead of reading from cover to cover they tend to jump around from page to page: [so we apologise if this causes any inconvenience.]  A lot of opinions are based on Research... some 'Ideas' are genuinely held opinions based on a particular point of view... other 'Ideas' may be included just because they are interesting... provocative... or thought provoking.  [Leave a Comment by E-mail ]
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Finally... if you would like to become involved in this Project in some way, have a look at the Help Us section...  or simply make a Donation.  There you will find as many possibilities to get involved as your... Time: Energy: Resources and Talents will allow!
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2008: Investment/Business/Sponsorship Opportunity this link will lead to a Section which outlines the options for expansion... but particularly expanding in a commercial way... and the opportunities for an outside party with experience and/or financial resources to become involved.

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Back to the Top. Home. Site Plan. The Concept...

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Copyright  2002-2008  Andrew W. Macnamara.  All rights reserved.
Revised: March 15, 2009 .