There has been a lot of construction on Interstate 31, which connects Santomas (where I live) and Almeida (where I work). I-31 bears the weight of most of Santomas’s traffic and they’ve been doing a lot of construction on it. Construction in Deseret was very cumbersome and problematic. There were only so many months throughout the year that they could work on I-13 out there, so when they were working on it they seemed to be doing so 24/7. In Santomas, however, they’ve managed to make construction on the primary artery of this town rather painless by working on it from 8pm to 6am and keeping all of the lanes open the rest of the time. My hat goes off to them.

The downside to this arrangement is if you happen to be on the roads between 8pm and 6am, as I was the other night.

If there’s one thing worse than sitting in traffic and going nowhere for minute stretches, it’s doing so when your car conked out on year earlier in the day. Every time I had to stop I had visions of being that bozo whose car breaks down in the middle of rush hour. Luckily, no such thing occurred.

Santomas and my hometown of Colosse are opposites, in a way. Colosse is an order of magnitude larger than Santomas, but commute times are roughly the same. It takes you forever to get from Point A to Point B within Colosse, but traffic is rarely so bad that you’re not moving except at certain interchanges and when you’re going with traffic right in the dead of rush hour. In Santomas, you can spend forever in the car going absolutely nowhere and it’s ridiculous. When there’s no traffic (and no construction) you can get anywhere in town within 10-15 minutes (in Colosse going across town is a 45-minute trek at best).

I think that my need to be moving in the car is almost pathological in vigor. I go absolutely crazy if I’m not moving. Right now when coming back into town traffic stops when coming back into town at 6pm. That is to say that even when you’re not in the dead of rush hour, and you’re going into town instead of out of town, you’re still stuck going nowhere. It takes me about 30 minutes to get 40 miles or so from Santomas to Almeida, but then another 20 minutes to get the remaining two miles.

I’ve found a back way that I often go when it looks like I’m going to have to stop on I-31 coming back into town (just about any day that I leave work by 5:30). It’s got stop lights, it requires me to go east when I need to be going west, and there’s traffic there, too. But you know what? I don’t care because at least I am moving or at a stop light.

A bit curious is that though I hate being stopped on the freeway, I don’t mind stoplights so much. At least then I know that we’re all taking turns and soon I’ll be getting my turn. This laid back attitude only lasts as long as I am through the light after one cycle. When I have to wait two or my cycles, I’m pathological again.

Anyhow, my detour takes me more time than staying on the freeway would. It also takes me through the worst parts of town. I’ve had to start rolling through a particularly stop sign lest I be approached by a prostitute. Wire-like drug dealing scenes are pretty prevalent. But compared to being stuck on the freeway and not moving, it’s practically paradise.

Category: Road

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5 Responses to Homeward Bound

  1. Peter says:

    Traffic lights drive me crazy. It seems as if the whole concept behind “traffic engineering” is to throw up lights at every intersection no matter how light the traffic flow.

  2. Webmaster says:

    I know a lot of intersections around where I live that could really use traffic lights instead of 4-way stop signs.

    Unfortunately, that is partly due to the fact that the idiots who live in Colosse have no clue, and likely were never even taught in drivers’ ed, what the proper etiquette at a 4-way stop sign is. There are also a good number around where I’m living that I’m pretty sure do not have (either because they have been revoked for the numerous accidents they have caused or because they cannot legally acquire them) drivers’ licenses at all.

  3. trumwill says:

    In Deseret there are a lot of intersections that have no stop signs or even yield signs. That took quite a bit of getting used to, but once I did I came to like it. I could drive through the whole residential area without having to stop unnecessarily (either it was a no-sign intersection or I was going the no-stop direction in a 2-way stop).

    Downtown Colosse has decently timed lights, which prevent you from having to stop much of time despite the lights between every intersection, but also keep people from speeding much of the time (no point, you’ll just hit a red light). The beach town south of Colosse and Mayne, on the other hand, has reverse-timed lights, which is the worst of every possible world because you have to stop at ever single intersection and some people try to beat the lights and run red lights because the light at the next intersection is green. Causes a lot of accidents, but the town leaders swear up and down that it slows down traffic and saves lives. They make a lot of money from light-runners, though, and the corrupt leadership down there is not above putting lives in danger for the sake of increased revenue. For that matter, despite research suggesting that it leads to more run yellow lights and accidents, Colosse shortened yellow light times about the time they put in those dreaded red light cameras.

  4. Peter says:

    My pet peeve is the practice of installing traffic lights at intersections that have little or no crossing traffic much of the time – for example, at the access road to an industrial area that is deserted nights and weekends – and then keeping the lights running their normal cycles at all times. Traffic lights can be set to blinker-style operations during certain times. This simple solution apparently does not occur to traffic engineers, however.

  5. trumwill says:

    Now that you bring it up, Peter, lights on access roads almost always seem to be off. They favor the crossing traffic even at intersections when the great majority of traffic a great majority of the time is on the access road.

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