December 01, 2023

WHY WE LOVE TO HATE I-95

Someone recently described me as “the Lewis Black of transportation”:  angry, cynical and sarcastic.   That’s high praise, in my view.  So imagine my surprise that when Lewis performed recently in Waterbury and New London he riffed on the highway we love to hate:  I-95.

“I lived in Connecticut for five years (attending the Yale School of Drama),” he told the crowd.  “There’s nothing more joyous than driving up I-95.  Hooo!  Literally, all they do is repair it.  They’re never going to finish it.  It’s like a state law… in order to get through Connecticut you must spend an hour in your car bitching and moaning.  Now that there’s money for infrastructure, you can count on this going on for the next 100 years.”

See if this list captures the essence of your angst about Connecticut’s busiest highway:

TRAFFIC:     Some 200,000 vehicles a day drive some of the 89 miles of I-95 in Connecticut.  That’s double the original design capacity.  No wonder the road always seems congested, also perhaps because we have…


TOO MANY EXITS:     I-95 is supposed to be an interstate highway but ends up being a short cut for local traffic.  According to the CDOT the average distance driven on I-95, including vehicles going from Florida to Maine, is just 11 miles.  Why are there 93 exits in just 89 miles?  On the New Jersey Turnpike there are only 18 exits over its 117 mile length.

TRUCKS:     Oh, we love to hate them, don’t we?  They clog and hog “our” road and are so heavy they’ve dug track-like ruts in the pavement, creating a kind of cruise control for unaware drivers.  But remember… we put those trucks on the road through our voracious consumption and demand for ever-faster deliveries.

OPERATIONAL LANES:   Ever notice those surprise “extra lanes” between some on-ramps and off-ramps, helping to merge traffic?  They’re great… until some bozo from out of state gets in them and is surprised to find, always at the last minute, that they only run a few hundred yards and they have to merge back into the flow.

BROKEN STREET LIGHTS:       The busiest sections of I-95 are supposed to be illuminated by overhead street lights to increase safety.  But do they work?  Of course not.  Are they ever fixed?  Doesn’t seem so.

SERVICE AREAS:     Local Connecticut drivers are smart enough not to buy gasoline on I-95:  the prices on the highway are 20 – 30 cents higher than local gas stations.  And as for food, did you know that one of the most expensive McDonalds in the US is at the northbound service area in Darien where a Big Mac combo meal costs big bucks… $18?

NOT ENOUGH TROOPERS:       For such a busy highway, there are only a handful of State Troopers on patrol, coping with accidents, breakdowns and, as time allows, chasing after speeders.  If we want to be safe, we need more officers enforcing the traffic rules.

What are your favorite gripes about I-95?  Drop me a line and let me know what I missed.  Meantime… happy motoring!

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