Coping: With Broken America

I haven’t made too big a deal about the state of America’s highways – and wasn’t going to – until the past day of travel had us spending an inordinate amount of time (delays) either running on the shoulder of freeways under repair and generally down at 45 miles per hour.

We noted the road we took through Oklahoma Sunday morning was bumpy and lumpy but it was at least made out of concrete.

On I-80, what is going down is asphalt of some kind. You can smell the oil and the hot tar as you (eventually) get past what’s holding people up.

And that’s the trouble with America: When we do get around to working on our roads, we don’t go first class. Steerage is more like it. Asphalt is like crack cocaine in that once you put it on, it will have to be reapplied again and again. Which means road work contracts into eternity and, lest we forget, state highway agencies that bloat beyond belief.

Toss in the planned destruction of concrete highways by allowing people to put studded tires on and you’ve got another recipe for eternal debt and damnation.

The right surface for a highway is concrete. The plain tires will work just fine.

But six months from now, the general public will be wailing and crying about how cold it is and how slippery the roads are, even if they find one made of concrete.

So out will come the sanding trucks – which do a peachy job of taking off the layer of cement on top. And this then exposed the rock (aggregate).

From here it gets even better: Because the rocks that are exposed to the studded tires quickly become polished and thus more slippery and up go the accident rates.

Quick, hire more people to study that problem, would you?

And to top it off, let’s put the very worst thing for concrete all over it: Salt. And now let’s freeze and give in to the studded tire people who believe in some God-given right to grind off public roads.

People who, I might add, should not be on the streets in the first place if conditions are that dangerous, or if they can’t learn to drive with their brain instead of their brakes.

You see?

It’s all about how Americans don’t think.

We look at every project and problem like it’s the highway mess. “The best answer is the cheapest one,” says the political class.

They don’t build light rail. They don’t extend people movers. And we all know why all the L.A. street cars were torn up: Because GM wanted to sell diesel busses. Here came smog and there went the first light rail systems.

It would be largely laughable, except on two counts.

First is that we continue to re-elect idiots to office who don’t get questioned about their inability to look at old problems in new ways.

The second is that the people who vote in this country must be even dumber than the quacks we put in office.

If America had done things right, it would not have taken 2.5 hours to go 10 miles on I-35W in Ft. Worth this weekend.

I’ve been meaning to mention this disaster in urban design for several years. I think it has been about five years since “highway improvements” began in Fort Worth.

It is so miserably bad that I’ve thought about recommending (to anyone who would listen) that the City close down all tourism promotion until the damn roads are built.

Still, There Is Hope

Two roads that I strongly recommend you take if you get a chance when you’re out and about looking for sane people in the U.S.: The canyon road from Flagstaff, Arizona down through the town of Sedona.

The other one was Monday’s ride from the I-80-I-64 split at Echo, Utah down to Ogden, Utah where we are this morning. Take the time to pull over at “The Devil’s Slide” which is an amazing feature.

Bet you will never guess who didn’t stop for a picture, but it’s developing in a weak solution of gray matter.

A Kind Word About Oklahoma

I mis-wrote. Since it is such a rare thing, I thought I’d amplify the reader correction that noted Oklahoma’s governess stopped the state cops from scanning money in people’s cars if they looked sketchy and like they might have something to do with drugs.

I apologize for the Oklaholdup moniker, as well but only for now.

Bad government is a growth industry so no telling what will happen when the next “sharp” comes to power up there.

About Colorado

On this one, several Colorado readers objected to the idea that the state would vote in the Bolshevik healthcare plan with it’s 10% payroll tax and a 10% state income tax.

“We’re smarter than that” a reader insisted.

Regrettably, while UrbanSurvival readers do have above room temp IQ’s (with the exception of some of our trolls) there are ever-more free lunchers.

I heard an ad on the radio again today again “selling” free phones for unemployed people so they could “stay in touch.”

If you’re a Peoplenomics subscriber, go look up the article from a couple of years ago in the Master Index titled “Dr. Ron’s Leisure Class.” I think we’re making the conversion to a 100% useless citizenry that is totally dependent on government already.

With almost 95-million people out of the workforce is there any other alternative?

Looking Ahead

The one thing I have been noodling on the trip when there’s a lull in the conversation is “What the Panic of 1909 Key?”

Very interesting notion and we’ll get into that tomorrow. But that is still three states from here.

Miles to go before we sleep and such…

Write when you get rich,

George@ure.net

Comments

Coping: With Broken America — 19 Comments

  1. I recon the bumpity-bump-bump makes for more car sickness. So you get it in the wallet and in the tummy.
    Bring back affordable comfortable train transport, please.

  2. George?? How do the cops “Scanning money in people’s cars'”?? is there new scanner technology that tell cops how much money you are carrying??

    • easy – but they can only take it from prepaid cards aND ONLY IF THE GOVT OF OK IS NOTG LOOKING. But yeah, ain’t tech dandy?

      I told you Elaine and I travel with Acess Denied wallets and then sleeves to boot>?

  3. George, solution to ‘road’ problems, and possibly a path to the flying cars as depicted in ‘Back to the Future’ movies and ‘The Fifth Element’: David Hamel’s magnetic motor. Had I the resources, I would build a ‘full-size’ version myself. The design seems to lend itself to miniaturization, thus making possible ‘lifting modules’ which could be installed on ‘ground’ vehicles.
    BTW, nice reference to Robert Frost & ‘Telefon’; “The woods are lovely, dark and deep;
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep…”

    Regards,

    Robert in WA State

    • You are a gentleman and scholar for catching it. Cool…er…frosty…

  4. Michigan likes concrete roads, Ontario likes ashphalt. The Blue Water Bridge (Port Huron MI and Sarnia Ont.) recently was fixed up. Up to the center of the span concrete on the U.S. Side, at the border in the middle of the bridge, we switch to ashphalt on the Canuck side. Salting steel bridges might also be a concern.

  5. Welcome to the failing infrastructure of the USA. But it’s not the infrastructure you can see you should be concerned with. It’s the stuff you can’t see that is the real problem, mainly utilities. Why do you think bottled water sales continue to soar?

    Years ago, the federal government specified (probably because of some lobbying) that federally funded roads built with asphalt could only use a certain “maximum” thickness of asphalt. That thickness guaranteed that these road surfaces would eventually fail. Under the false flag of preventing substandard roads because of graft, contractors were only too glad to build to federal specs, guaranteeing them future business.

    Texas chose to ignore this dictum, and for years their road system was the envy of road people everywhere. Texas was able to do this because of the local availability of asphalt, they could build the better roads without the excessive cost of importing asphalt and stay within their “federal” budget. They also did a lot of construction with state government crews, not out of state contractors.

  6. I will wave as you come through Boise. Sometime in the future, as I have suggested before, lunch would be on me just to have a face to face conversation. I know of at least one other reader that would like that as well, here in Boise. No we aren’t stalkers, just readers and would like to meet the writer.Be safe, and there is even more construction on I-80 between Boise and LeGrande.

    • Sorry but didn’t get the invite until we were up in Baker City, or…dang! We are known for buying the first beer, too.

  7. Have lived in King County WA for the past 30 years. The roads are absolutely terrible/horrible. In addition to the traffic messes, coupled with the non-stop constant job-guarantee road construction projects (yes George, they are STILL working on that same section of 405 down by Tukwila as they have been for the past 30 years)…But it doesn’t matter whether interstate or intrastate or city streets.

    Driving conditions are bad as well. The road by our home, which is a main road, has had non stop potholes on it, in the same block areas, for the past 10 years. Every winter they show up, then the County ‘fixes’ them only to have them return in less than a month, and then they ‘fix’ them again….I think you get the idea. Talk about job security. And every time the County shows up to fix these holes, it takes a crew of about 8 people – whenever I drive by/through, 1 person is working and the rest of the 7 are standing around with their mermaided coffee cups chatting away….

    Even county wise, when driving, one can tell when one crosses a county line just by the road conditions….and King County to elsewhere is the most noticeable.

    Plan for lots and lots of construction while here in Western Wa…..

  8. Hmmm…… infrastructure.. http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/falling-apart-america-neglected-infrastructure/
    the last time I read the major infrastructure repairs happened during the Roosevelt and Truman years.. since then we seem to dump all our money into projects and repairs for countries we have torn apart to assist only large company endeavors and neglect to pay any attention to our own countries needs..
    I play online games and speak with people from other countries in game chat all the time what I find funny is they all make fun of how the USA see’s where The Priorities of the United States are compared to theirs. that Our politicians are more willing to give them money for their infrastructure needs and care of their people than take care of our own countries infrastructure or the needs of our own people.. Just take a gander at pictures of Detroit or any other industrial city then take a gander at pictures of other cities in other countries that we dump money in so that our industrial leaders can make more numbers..
    we have undoubtedly sent all of our support somewhere other than where we should be sending it.. Hence the discontent among the people..
    The comical part about that is even with all of that discontent we will still vote in 99 percent of all the idiots in congress ( shoot with fast track voting they don’t even have to look at the bills cover now) that don’t care what we the people and country need anyway so who’s fault is it.. our own..
    we moved our industrial complex outside the USA for the cities affected by those changes we stopped maintaning those cities leaving America broken and the people discontented and discouraged and jobless.. it is all our own fault as voters..
    politicians are in my opinion like a babies diaper.. their full of fecal matter and should be changed often. instead we the people and our court systems allow special interest and lobbying groups the privilege to influence policy and control the politicians on policies that affect all the people.
    Of course all of this is just my opinion and I feel that as long as we keep voting in the same people decade after decade then we deserve everything they give us and shouldn’t complain.

  9. Panic of 1909…..hhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmm ?
    Didn’t the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 have a major role in it ?

  10. Duely noted on your discovery that the OK governess has struck down the money confiscation activity in Oklahoma. Little details like that are why I go to your site almost every day. If it was a reader that wrote in about that I missed it so, again, thanks for pointing it out again.

    It’s a damned shame it happened in the first place, though, because it gave the heroes that put the uniform on every day and go out in harm’s way a bad name. Just shows the down side of being a “team player”. You have to go along with some dumb stuff like it or not sometimes.

  11. I’d read in a Reader’s Diest article a few years back that there was a law against states specifying that they wanted their roads made of a long-lasting material. I suppose it was a particular interest group that got that one across. It may have actually been stated in the article; I dont remember.

  12. George,

    A small map of your ‘road trip path’ would be nice….just a thought….enjoy

    • nothing personal, but why would one want to provide such detailed info to be available to the rest of the world? Far far too many crazies out there – so why give them ANY ideas whatsoever?