Sunday, June 18, 2017

You Can’t Get From Here to There

In a moment of rare optimism I attempted to drive from Sherman Texas to Fort Worth during the Friday rush hour. If you’ve read previous blog entries, you understand that I am pessimistic about most things, knowing that Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” applies to all human endeavor . But, for some reason, I actually thought I could drive across the northern half of the DFW Metroplex during peak rush hour late on a Friday and only suffer a few minor delays and slowdowns.

I even had a plan. I used to go the round-about way over to Gainesville and then down I-35. But due to construction (which, oh by the way, will never end), 35 essentially comes to a standstill just north of Fort Worth. I hear that people have died of thirst or exploding bladders while stuck there. Instead of highway signs warning of heavy traffic and delays they should simply say “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”. It’s that bad…all the time. So no way, I’m going that route. I’ve made it across the Metroplex on weekends or non-rush periods by simply heading down 75 and taking 121 either to DFW Airport or all the way into Fort Worth. How much worse could Friday rush hour be?

The answer is: As bad as it could possibly be. Compounded by a multi-vehicle accident that essentially shutdown 121 just north of the airport (I guarantee you that a lot of people missed flights), there was no good way to get where I wanted to go. To make matters even more stressful, my wife is over in the passenger seat with her I-phone giving me all kinds of instructions. I decided to give it a try and we only went from gridlock to almost gridlock. Little did I know that “almost gridlock” was as good as it gets during Friday rush hour in that part of the Metroplex.

But having vast local knowledge and minimal patience, I concluded that I could do better than Mr. Know-it-all GPS/real-time traffic conditions/I-Phone Cloud Navigator. Turns out I was wrong. I didn’t find a better way, but I did find out that most every major route that goes anywhere in the Northern half of the Metroplex is under-construction. I eventually ended up out by the Texas Motor Speed Way north of Fort Worth. And even there, running into construction, detours and delays.

Eventually I had to surrender and listen to Mr. I-Phone Cloud Navigator, and he routed me back to I-35. Against my wishes and better judgment, I followed his instructions and ended up stuck in the very same jam I wanted to stay out of in the first place. I could have avoided a lot of frustration and anxiety by just going the old route (82 to Gainesville and 35 to Fort Worth) and ended up in the same mess. But apparently, given where I had traveled in my search for alternative routes into Fort Worth, this was the best option.

We were eventually directed to exit I35 and after a few dubious routings through neighborhoods where I swear I heard gunshots, we ended up at our destination. Missing dinner, but making it just in time for the main event, an outdoor concert. The Fort Worth symphony was doing the music of Pink Floyd. By the time we got to our seats I was numb, but not “comfortably numb”. The drive back, late at night, took less than half the time spent trying to get there during peak rush hour. So in the end, was it all worth the trouble? Of course, the music was great, we got to spend time with old friends and I have another story to tell.

While I can only laugh about the craziness of that rush hour trip, I do wonder what we’re going to do about the gridlock that is crippling our major metropolitan areas. It’s costing truckers billions of dollars. And what is it doing to the poor souls who have to commute every day in the middle of this mess? People either fight the rush hour beast or they go in very early and come home very late, effectively putting in 14+ hour days. It’s insane and no way to live. We have to figure out a better way to transport people and products around this country, especially through our major metro areas. Want to Make America Great Again? Just figure out a way to get from here to there in a reasonable amount of time and in one piece.

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