Midpoint Musings

Midpoint Musings

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Driving in the Middle

Many of the newly surfaced roads in Northwestern Pennsylvania have received an annoying application of the the apparent latest safety feature. After the road is laid, a mean-looking digging vehicular machine goes up the middle of the road on each side digging evenly spaced ruts all along the edge lines and up the middle. A dump truck follows the machine collecting the chunks of pavement scooped out. The end result is a ridge system not unlike the lines on many interstate highways. These ridges warn drivers who venture too far beyond the side of the road.

But the ridges I drive across everyday are much worse. They are ON the white lines, not 12 inches to the side. And, if your car tire but touches the white line, a frightening rumbling sound results. If you want to pass a driver on a dotted line, it makes no difference, the gouges are twice as wide in the middle of the road. That sound is shocking, causing one to rethink the need for passing. 

On the way home from work a couple of days ago, I ventured onto the white line while taking a curve. The roadway was wet, and as I fought my way back onto the solid surface, my outside tires slid which felt like hydroplaning. 

The majority of highway I travel everyday also has tire ruts; low places where the majority of vehicles pass. When it rains, these create little shallow troughs of water. Having a small car, I have often sought the higher ground of the roadway. Where might that be, you ask? Along the white line, of course.

If you live along a road filled with these gouges, you are regularly shocked by the sound of cars who dare venture onto the white line as well as those who legally pass. I honestly cannot think of one good thing about these gouges.

Keep in mind, now, that PENNDOT spends countless, painstaking hours every year filling little road cracks with liquid tar attempting to prevent the crack filling with water in the winter, freezing and melting into bigger pot holes in the spring.  In spite of this, Pennsylvania is well-known for it's record-setting pot holes. It defies logic that chuncks of the asphalt would be removed to invite the wet/freezing/thawing/heaving process.

What I think happened in this case is something like this: some friend of a friend's brother-in-law's step-son invented this really neat machine that puts the same kind of gouges used on interstates into common roadways. He is a friend of a cousin who is a Pennsylvania politician, who's father is a big wig at PENNDOT. It was simply a case of 'you scratch my back; I'll scratch yours.'  Another way your tax dollars are wasted in Pennsylvania.

What does all of this have to do with Midpoint Musings? It's my life, now, trying to stay in the middle, to avoid the rumble bumps and the troughs of water. So if you come upon a little red Toyota going slower than the speed limit, it's only me--trying stay out of the water and avoid the rumble bumps in order to make my way to work and back.

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