Monday, November 13, 2006

Sure-kill

This is a different type of week for me. I am out of the office and attending training in Conshohocken, Pa - just north and east of center city Philly. Since I live in New Jersey and can't fly, the only way to get there is take the Schuykill Expressway West.

Readers from the Philly area will immediate recognize that I am in trouble. This morning's commute took 1 hour 45 minutes to travel 28 miles - and there were no accidents. This was only volume and weather related.

Schuykill, of course, is an Indian word that is best translated as "45 minutes of staring a truck bumpers" or "merge or die" depending on the dialect. The path the expressway takes along the Schuykill river was first used by the Indians to reach their summer homes along the Jersey shore and later by colonists that wanted to reach Neiman Marcus at Christmas time. The real reason that Washington's spent the winter at Valley Forge? They did not want to use the Schuykill. They said "I wound rather starve in a freezing tent rather than travel that road". Later they crossed the Delaware at Trenton to avoid the whole mess. As time went by the corridor along the river was used for train right of ways, leaving approximately 31.5 feet for the future road's twisting and turning 4 lanes.

Like I said, everyone hates this road but is forced to use it.

Philly Roads has a great quote from Bill Allen, the designer of the Expressway. Bill said "If you don't like it, don't drive it".

Thanks Bill.

I even listened to the radio traffic reports this morning before heading out. Normally, even if I do turn on the radio, I tune out the traffic reports as background noise. I tried to listen this morning, I really did. But after 40 something years of hearing "the Schuykill is backed up from Vine street to Conshohocken" everyday on every station you tend to filter it out. All I hear is "and now traffic and transit on the twos" and I completely zone out. It's like that phrase puts me in a trance. Next thing you know, the sports report is on. They could be saying that the Loch-Ness monster is eating all black cars that pass milepost 335 after "on the twos" and I would miss it. (Although that may explain the slowdown, that would take a lot of time wouldn't it? eating every black car?)

I even checked out the television traffic reports this morning. One report said that from Vine Street to Conshohocken was a 24 minute commute. 24 minutes. I really should have known better because even at 3 am this ride takes 20 minutes. This took me 1:05 Hrs. You couldn't have made that trip in 24 minutes even if you sprouted wings and flew off like those monkeys on the Wizard of Oz.

I swear the traffic reporters must be just making it up. How would you ever know if they were right? Unless your driveway connects right to the Vine Street entrance of the road, it is going to take you maybe a half an hour to get to the area that they are reporting traffic on. A lot can happen in a half an hour. Loch-Ness eating cars for example. If you asked them, they would just say that a half hour ago there was no Loch-Ness monster eating cars.

Maybe traffic reporters should the ask animals at the zoo what is backed up. The Schuykill goes right past the zoo and the animals might have a really good view. They have as good a shot at getting it right as one of those good looking traffic reporters. Mr Elephant says Eastbound at the Curve in Conshohocken is backed up. Mr Giraffe says it's going to take you 45 minutes to get to Girard. Mr Tiger says stay away from City Line. Like you have a choice anyway.

So tomorrow I take the trip again Westbound (that really goes north) and I will leave earlier. This means nothing. I have a 50-50 shot at getting to the class on time.

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