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...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, July 19, 2008

1-95's Sunpass Lanes

Tell me, fellow South Floridians:

Whose bright idea was it to make two Sunpass lanes on 1-95 North?

Because I just came back yesterday from having entered my usual "speed" lane, going to Boca Raton, and found myself happy to escape with my life. This will be a daily traffic accident catastrophe waiting to happen.

It looks something like this (yes, I had my camera, but I didn't dare take any photos. This is in Seattle):

Imagine white plastic cones where the red arrows are, at about 5 foot intervals. These two lanes are buttressed by a concrete barrier which separates the opposing routes of 1-95.

Only those plastic cones (temporary?) prevent Sunpass lane riders from attempting to move out from the two lanes unto the third lane, which I presume has now become the "speed" lane, i.e., the unofficial lane where you're allowed to go faster than usual. It varies, but it's usually 80 MPH/130 KPH.

Well, Friday afternoon, the Sunpass lanes were moving at a crawl. Not just the driver in front of me, but three ahead decided they couldn't wait. Finding a lull in the third lane's traffic, they decided to hurtle themselves there, running over the cones.

God, what a nightmare.

I thought I was a goner one time for sure, as an SUV right in front of me just barely missed being ploughed into by a car who had just turned from the fourth lane, not realising he was going to attempt this horrific manoeuvre. If the SUV had been a fraction of a second off in timing, I think people would've died in clumps.

Once you get into those Sunpass lanes, they'll take you straight to the Golden Glades exit (Exit 45), with no chance to get away, if you please!

The way I knew that, since in typical Miami fashion there's been little or NO advertising about this, is that I actually called Florida Highway Patrol on my mobile at one point.

The lady officer who answered calmed me about the situation, but did confirm that there had been many accidents so far, exactly due to the situation I just described above:

Unalerted drivers not realising once you take these Sunpass lanes, there's no getting out for miles.

In fact, there is a junction which liberates drivers to decide to continue on 1-95 North, or to take 595 or 836. I presume that'll be an overpass, and the option will be cutoff at one point.

You must be wondering if I, in a moment of desperation that our two lanes were moving at a crawl, decided to follow suit and run over the cones?

Yes, I did. I thought about it a lot. But I didn't do it. I was scared not just for my life, but in human fashion, for totalling my car.

It was only later, after we got to the end, that we realised a traffic accident had shut down one of these two Sunpass lanes, effectively nullifying their intended purpose: speed.

Maybe it'll be fine in a few years, and I'm just overreacting today.

But good God, what a dangerous transformation of 1-95 this has proven to be.

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  • Oh, how I love living out in the country, where a "traffic jam" is generally caused by two guys in pickup trucks who were going opposite directions and they stop in the road, make sure their windows are down and shoot the bull with each other for a bit.

    Living in a town with no traffic lights (and no need for one.)

    Living in a town where nobody is on the road after nine o'clock because by then everything is closed.

    Living in a town where you can walk anyplace in town in fifteen minutes if you want to (and nowhere you'd be worried about walking, though you might want to keep an eye out for horse manure.)

    You can have all your traffic-choked freeways. I love it out here, and I'm glad my wife and I made a conscious decision to raise our kids in a place like this.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Mon Jul 21, 11:38:00 pm GMT-4  

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