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Thu, 12 Sep 2013

Interstate System

My wife and I are just back from a visit to relatives in Pennsylvania, and I want to thank all of you out there, no matter how small your contribution to the Eisenhower Interstate System of highways.

I like back road driving. Don't get me wrong, We loved the first hour which we spent on PA County roads and loved the small towns we encountered between the relatives' house and the New York border. But a whole lot of our trip was interstate highways. I-88 might be at the top of my list for pleasure to drive. It has never been crowded, in our experience, The long vistas are magnificent. Ridge after ridge of forest, hillsides and valleys of fields pass outside the car windows. Silos, barns and majestic (or small) farm houses fill my eyes on both sides of the road. The mix of green shades in September is marvellous. I expect the fall bursts with more color, but we've done our PA trips mainly in September and don't regret a second.

Miles and miles of I-88 from Binghamton to Albany are concrete and the syncopated beat of tires on the slab dividers, sealed cracks and well-made repairs is both soothing and practically musical.

Today was hot and hazy, and one view of overlapping ridges receding into the misty distance took my breath away. Riding the rural roads would not have revealed the view.

Yes, I will admit that some of the driving is tense with traffic whizzing along at all sorts of different speeds. Trucks labor up the long slopes in the right lane with hazzard lights flashing. Once in a while some idiot causes the police to fly by with their lights flashing, and it gets too crowded around many cities. Nonetheless, I will take the bother with the beauty.

Thanks, then to the design engineers, the heavy equipment operators, the truck drivers who delivered the safety guards along the long elevated curves, the pavers, the line painters, the snow plow drivers, the sign makers and hangers, the grass mowers, the culvert installers and the bridge builders. Whether you wore gloves for your shovel, sat in a machine cab or just stared at blueprints for hours behind a Department of Transportation desk. Your work is appreciated.

Long trucks carry goods to market on these roads. We saw one semi-trailer today with not just the standard 18 wheels, but an additional two axles (26 wheels?). There are people who travel to and from their day jobs as well in pickups and sedans and even sports cars.

But I think you built these roads just for me, my wife and our station wagon, and I think you prove that my federal taxes can be well spent. To everyone who has earned a small part of a penny from us through the years, thank you, and thank you again.

posted at: 19:50 | path: | permanent link to this entry