Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bridges and Highways

Escaping out of the city across the Kennedy Bridge, I was still in the multi-mile 55 mph section. This reduced speed area was set up on I-65 about fifteen years ago when the Indiana Highway Department was widening the road from two lanes going north and two lanes going south. Now there are about eight lanes in both directions. I say about because I'm never sure if the lane count is confined to only the lanes in the actual road, or does the count include the several lanes behind the tall and thick concrete barrier between road lanes and the approach lanes. The Kennedy Bridge is four lanes and spans the Ohio River at a point where the river is a mile wide. There has been a generation of discussion about what kind of or number of bridges should be built to supplement the Kennedy as well as the Clark bridges. These two carry those wanting to enter or leave Louisville, as well as those who just want to pass through the city.

My mind boggles. Sixteen lanes of traffic carry vehicles north out of or south into eight lanes of a bridge.

When driving north the traffic is manageable. I was in the right lane and my truck had been set to run 55 miles an hour. Everyone from a heavily loaded log semi-truck to the 1974 Oldsmobile that hadn't seen a mechanic or car wash in a decade was passing me going 70. The Indiana State Police write a lot of tickets in this part of the highway.

When I was nearing Sellersburg a big truck was entering the expressway. I had seen it and got into the left lane. Unfortunately, another big truck that had been running beside me did not see the new entrant and slammed on its brakes and moving into my lane at about 45 miles an hour. I'm not sure he saw me in my bright red truck but I slammed on my brakes and was able to not explode against his back bumper!

Then proceeding on I topped one of the gently rolling hills and about five hundred yards ahead a man was standing in the middle of the expressway between two lanes talking on a cell phone with his back to the traffic. I slammed on the brakes again, leaned on my horn and gave him time to walk back to the side of the road, where his mini-van was parked. I was amazed; a man standing in the middle of I-65 North talking on a cell phone.

The last time I made this trip I had sat in a traffic jam for about an hour going north and thirty minutes going south. Luckily I had a book with me.

I met some friends for lunch at a restaurant five miles north of the bridge one Thursday afternoon last month and it took me an hour to get back over the bridge at 2 in the afternoon. There wasn't an accident. The jam was due to traffic.

Once those who lived in Indiana and worked in Louisville would get up and start south about 7:45 a.m. for a job downtown that started work at 8:30 to 9 a.m. My home town is 43 miles from Louisville up I-65. Now you have to start for the city about 7 a.m. and 4 mornings out of 5 you will spend 45 minutes in traffic between Sellersburg and the river. Most mornings these delays are not due to accidents but just because of the high traffic volume. I'm sure this is nothing compared to places like Los Angeles and Houston. For southern Indiana and northern Kentucky it's a nightmare.

Louisville built a "world class" arena for the college basketball team in 18 months.

The powers that be began discussing the need for one or two new bridges in 1971, at least.

This bridge need is a big conversation topic here. Now after millions have been spent in studies of the problem and salaries of those involved, it is thought that tolls will be needed to pay for them. Most of those who sit daily in their cars and suck up exhaust don't give a damn, just build the bridges!


  1. The whole experience sounds absolutely horrific. I couldn't exist in the US as I don't drive!

  2. Urban: I didn't own a car of my own till 1984. Until then I lived in the city and took the bus to school and jobs. We need mass transit bad. What we have is a bus system that runs empty buses on most routes.

    YELLOWDOG GRANNY: Lot of traffic.

    die rennschnecke traunt: You have a quiet life at home.

  3. yes that is true !!
    Coburg, a small city in Germany !!
    i love cars , but too much is too much !!
    i do understand !!

  4. We are experiencing the same kind of traffic growth on I-85 between Greensboro and Charlotte. They have been widening the interstate for several years and have got several more to go. Luckily I don't have to use them very often. Me and traffic don't get along well.

  5. I live in the SF Bay Area and traffic really sucks a long one. I feel your pain.

  6. i can get to most places around town riding my bike than driving my car. it gives me satisfaction riding past all those cars stuck in traffic.

  7. That sort of commuting problem would likely drive me right out of my mind.

  8. this is when a multiple personality would come in handy.

  9. I can't even imagine driving to and from work every day. One person per one car - that's where the traffic jams come from. And that's why we use so much oil.

  10. The connection bewteen Kentucky and Cincinnati is the same mess. I have a phobia of bridges. I avoid them whenever possible. Cheers Charlene!!

  11. That 2nd photo is really pretty.

    The traffic sounds terrible. It seems like when you escape out of the city you should also be able to escape from the traffic.


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