People are lamenting the traffic congestion on the local Interstate and wishing it could be widened. If they think it is bad now, they should have been out there the last time the road was widened. Traffic flow? Ha, what’s that? There was no such thing as traffic flow getting in and out of the city. The construction reduced traffic flow to near zero. Traffic “trickle” is a more descriptive term — traffic hell, if you really want the truth.
Creative drivers were sneaking off the highway and using frontage roads. They were driving on the shoulders, going out of their way to take back roads, and all sorts of inventive driving to get through. Alternate routes were jammed by those who gave up on the Interstate. I always thought, “This is what it would be like if there were a disaster of some sort and the city had to be evacuated.”
The traffic experts said it is our fault, we commuters, for not carpooling. Increased traffic causes the need for construction, and construction makes the traffic congestion worse than ever. Well, experts, couldn’t you plan ahead a bit instead of waiting for gridlock and then deciding to build a road?
Anyhow, they are now attempting to force us to carpool. There are signs marking the new center lane as an HOV lane. No, an HOV lane is not a special lane for people with AIDS. It means “High Occupancy Vehicle”– a lane for cars with more than one occupant. That’s a method they have invented for punishing those who insist on driving their own car to work instead of carpooling.
These high occupancy special use lanes congest the traffic even more by effectively closing the center lane except to the few who happen to have a spouse or friend who also works in the city — or those who choose to ignore the difficult-to-enforce law and drive in the center lane anyhow.
In the meantime, fellow commuters, be happy there are no construction workers there; get your butt in gear and drive! The problem is that during construction people wanted to slow down and look at the construction workers who look exactly like all the other construction workers we’ve been seeing for years. They were still as dirty as ever. People need to drive and quit rubbernecking. A giant sigh of relief went up when the construction workers finally got those orange barrels out of the road and let us have all the lanes to drive in.
As far as those who drove on the shoulder of the road, it is illegal — even for those getting off at the next exit. It seemed inevitable that one day the cops would be brave enough to venture out in rush hour traffic and stop it. We hoped the cheaters’ days were numbered, but there were too many to stop them all. And, when the highway patrol tried to enforce lane usage and ticket those using the HOV lane illegally, there were a traffic jams and backups for miles.
In spite of a wider road, traffic still crawls, road rage is becoming epidemic; chain collisions are becoming frequent, and HOV lane signs are ignored. Better roads means more cars using them. Maybe we should just park it and forget it. Maybe it’s true – you really can’t get there from here.
©2009-2016 Sheila Moss
revised & updated