Tag Archives: traffic

An Illusion of Progress

Round and round and round.  At least that’s what they say is supposed to be happening here. Road construction.  To make improvements.  But I don’t see anything round about it.

Apparently the roundabout is the latest craze here. The road engineers claim that roundabouts make travel safer and smoother.  Instead of a traffic light or four way stop, everyone just goes in circles.  Maybe not as dramatically as the family in National Lampoons European Vacation, stuck forever in the Paris roundabout, but still in circles.

The problem is that some people treat the roundabout as a wide open green light and stop or yield for nothing.  And others are intimidated by the nonstop movement of vehicles and just freeze.  A dead stop. I’m not a fan.

With the construction of this particular roundabout I‘ve become convinced that the real purpose of road construction is not to make any improvements, but rather to confuse people.  And to trick them.

You take a bad situation and make it much worse. Slow down the traffic.  Dig up the roads.  Create detours and mega potholes.  Just make it as bad as possible.  Then slap down some new asphalt and paint a few new stripes and voilà!, a new and “improved” road.  Except it’s not improved.  It’s just different.  And people are so happy that the damn construction is done that they don’t care if it’s any better or not.

But it’s never really done.  This roundabout has been in the works for three months now. Still looks like a triangle.  And the only roadwork I’ve seen is a crew occasionally tearing something up.  It will be years.

Another much heralded project was recently “finished” near me.  After four years of road widening, and traffic snarls, the busy road was reopened. It seems to carry less traffic now. But it’s pretty.  Except that the construction crews keep coming back to redo some section of sidewalk, or patch some stretch of asphalt.  How many years?  How many millions?  And it’s still screwed up.

Everyone who has ever driven on the interstate can relate to the lane closures for construction.  Orange cones set up in one lane, thereby closing it off, for miles and miles and miles.  Without a construction worker in sight.  It’s just a lot of cones blocking the road for the hell of it.  Someone out there has a great sense of humor.

It’s all part of an illusion.  Jobs are created to do nothing.  And money is spent.  Not to make improvements, which is what we really need, but to make it look pretty.

Politicians endorse it.  Contractors love it.  And road engineers tout it.  Only the people who have to drive on the roads complain.  But hey, when it all gets put back together it’s at least better than it was during the construction.  And that’s progress, isn’t it?!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Snowy Roads

Travelling on deserted roads was blissful.  No honking.  No worrying about what the other drivers were going to do next.  There wasn’t a Sunday driver in sight.  And no crazy speed demons.   In fact, on my ten-mile trek I doubt if I saw more than three other cars. 

Normally the route I take to work, back and forth, would be jammed with cars.  Frustrating and nerve wracking.  But for three days, almost everyone was off the roads, holed up at home.  This was the great blizzard and ice storm.

Keep in mind that I live in Georgia so what we call a great blizzard probably amounted to three or four inches of snow.  I grew up in Pennsylvania so driving in that was no problem for me.  What made it bad was the ice.  Under the snow, and later on top of it as it began to fall as sleet, was a half-inch of ice. 

Unless you drive a vehicle with tank treads, or snow chains, there is no way to drive on ice without some slipping and sliding.  And yes, as always in this kind of weather, I saw cars on the side of the road or in the ditch beside it. 

A couple of weeks ago Atlanta was in the news as a laughing stock.  Total gridlock, chaos and massive misery caused by a little ice and snow.  No one bothered to prep the roads, or send people home knowing that driving would be terrible.  How big a mess it turned out to be was all over the news.  People stuck in their cars for days, sleeping the aisles of the grocery stores.

So, with a second chance to get it right, everyone closed and went home before the snow or ice even started coming down.  A good thing. 

People like me had to go to work, driving in the snow, regardless of the weather.  I’m in healthcare.  When I’m not blogging or antiquing that is.  We go to work to care for patients.

It wasn’t a big storm compared to what others have, but for us, here in Georgia, it was a storm for the ages.  I enjoyed driving on the empty roads.  But I can tell that everyone is emerging from hibernation because the cars are back on the roads en masse.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.  Yeah, yeah, quit your honking, I’m moving.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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