Gods of Travel

Gods of Travel

Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

Oh, Gods of Travel, why can’t ADOT seem to get it right? Let’s start with Mother’s Day weekend. Close a stretch of southbound I-17 in North Phoenix from Carefree Highway to around Happy Valley Road from a Friday night until Monday morning. What could go wrong? Maybe thousands of vehicles at a standstill? Folks coming down from Flagstaff to Phoenix – five hours. Going from Black Canyon City to Anthem – three hours. Driving five miles on frontage roads and side streets – two hours.

Not enough misery on Mother’s Day weekend? Repeat it the following weekend. Yes, northbound I-17 closure from Rt. 303 to Carefree Highway. Let the graduations, parties, dinners, weddings, and outings be missed, while all travel in the North Valley comes to a screeching halt.

Does ADOT stand for Arizona Demons of Traffic? Of course not! However, some motorists may disagree. Yet, we do appreciate any efforts to improve our roads. But what mental giants thought that closing off (entirely) a stretch of the only north-south artery on weekends would be helpful? How about night-time work. Or closing one lane at a time. Traffic cops to help with the detours and managing getting people through traffic lights at Carefree Highway. Come on ADOT, do better!

Evil traffic snarls seem to happen every weekend. What is the hope here? You try to cope. One long minute at a time. People turn off their vehicles, start milling around, trying to make sense of what is happening, with a backdrop of laughter, small talk and friendly exchanges That initial phase is replaced by an almost eerie sense of dismay and helplessness, as people begin to realize that they are stuck. Indefinitely.

With the I-17 closures, motorists weren’t just mildly inconvenienced. Some drivers were very low on water, many needing to use the bathroom, babies were crying, and people who began the road-trip sick were getting sicker by the minute. Cars were running out of gas. Emergency vehicles couldn’t get through. Mother’s Day plans were cancelled.

How long does it take for a pint of ice cream to melt? Sit long enough in a hot car and you will find out. Ice cream wasn’t the only thing in people’s cars having meltdowns. As motorists drove through neighborhoods, Tramonto, New River, Desert Hills soon became parking lots. Driveways were blocked. Tempers flared.

Eventually, it all worked out. The babies had cried themselves to sleep, and people slowly got to their destinations. Many folks were not just late. They missed a loved-one’s wedding, their parents’ surgery, a graduation ceremony. People didn’t make it to their business meetings. Flights were missed.

Moral of the story? Dear Readers, pack a bag with essentials before you leave home. Bring extra water, snacks, reading material, medicine, and anything else to make yourself comfortable during a long detour. Check ADOTs Freeway Closures on the internet before traveling.

ADOT defends their actions, saying their “only goal is to improve roadways.” ADOT, perhaps consider a new message for the Overhead Board Display. How’s this?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Yep, and we are headed that way.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Contact Judy at [email protected]or visit www.aroundthebluhmintown.com.

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