An Open Letter to PENNDOT

Dear Pennsylvania Department of Transit:

I must have been hallucinating on Saturday.

Because it was... oh... two or three weeks ago already now that the evening news told us how you were done with roadwork on the Parkway East for the year.

Done until next spring, when you would once again regularly close one of the major highways that connect we East side folks to the rest of the city.

Or to Monroeville Mall.

Or to, say, the Turnpike.

So I know I must have been hallucinating over the weekend. Because I could have sworn I saw roadcrews all along the in-bound Parkway on Saturday. I saw road cones taking up two lanes of the three lane highway. I was so positive I saw cars backed up almost to Penn Hills by late afternoon.

I must have been imagining the men under the bridges, then. And the cranes. And the giant piles of freshly dug up dirt. And the worktrucks and machinery here and there looking anything but done for the season.

Because they couldn't possibly have been there. You were finished for the year, you see. We all knew that.

But it was very life-like.

When you originally decided to work on almost every major road in the city at the same time this spring, I can't say I was happy about it, but I understood.

Yes, the work would close us off weekend after weekend, evening after evening, from our popular shopping destinations, and the biggest route across our state. But I knew it had to be done. I had empathy in my heart for you. I held the image of a beautiful, smooth-riding future.

I am stupid that way.

And so I heeded your warnings and made workaround plans. Which isn't exactly easy when you decide to rip up the Parkway East, West, North, Saw Mill Run Boulevard, Route 28, Fifth Avenue, Forbes Avenue, and partially close the Birmingham Bridge, all at the same time.

My empathy waned a little once or twice there, I admit. I might have even said a few not-so-ladylike words.

But I kept out of your way, weekend after weekend, night after night. The way you seem to like it. The way your PR reps on the news tell us, "Avoid this area. And if you have to be somewhere, leave extra time."

Only it's hard to estimate an extra two hours for what's normally a ten minute drive. I had that happen once.

Never again.

So, you can imagine my horror over what had to be just a very vivid figment of my imagination. As I dared peek my head out from my home on Saturday and journey East, thinking my path was free--only to see my return trip might very well hold hours of gridlock and gritted teeth.

Fortunately, it was only a hallucination.

So I am now looking for a good psychiatrist. I will tell this doc about the vivid images that have been appearing before my eyes. Perhaps it was caused by stress. Perhaps brought on from spending too many weekends shut in. But whatever the reason, I am hopeful that with patience and analysis, I will have a cure.

I am stupid that way, too.

The tricky part, of course, will be to ensure I get a shrink on the proper side of the Parkway. Because if the doc's in Monroeville or off the Turnpike, well... I might just not be able to make my appointment.

Due to the hallucination delays, dontchaknow.


Jenn Thorson



Anonymous said...

PennDOT is like that, I've learned. Lots of hallucinations. Sometimes I hallucinate and think the guys (and gals now) are actually working instead of taking another break.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the Government - city or Province/State - always get the upper-hand ?
Heck they don't even need to announce it because they figure the public will eventually know.

Last Thursday I was returning home by bus on West 35th Street - and we were delayed by road-work - at the worst possible spot - a single-lane two-way stretch of the road !

And there was the back-hoe digging a huge hole on the north-bound side of the road.

I was tuned to the local radio via cellphone (RDS !) at the time an this is what they said:
"Expect possible delays on West 35th. There is an accident but we are not sure..."

Public ? Even the News Corp didn't know !

When I go to Toronto, I take the GO Bus and on the flip side, their drivers are always up-to-date via radio regarding any delays on the highways.
Heck they are even guided by "mission-control" on where to take the exit and which roads to use as alternate routes and at what point to get back on the highway.
I think it's time they shared (or that someone de-crypt) their radio-frequency !

Unknown said...

UnfinishedDude- PennDOT totally has it going on in terms of things like online car registration, etc. THAT part of their system has been beautifully done.

And then there's the construction. I guess I wouldn't mind so much, if they weren't always so unrepentant about it on the news. People sitting in traffic saying how it's taken them four hours to go on the parkway, and how they've missed someone's wedding because of it. And the PennDOT reps interviewed seem so unconcerned. "Well, leave extra time. You should have heeded the warnings."

Um, yeah.

Jaffer- Well, at least it's good to know things are the same all over. Though a back-hoe is not exactly a car accident. :) (Shakes head). PS- Nice use of RPS. You are king of the previous-post tie-ins! :)

ReformingGeek said...

I guess the reps are not the ones stuck in traffic. Funny how that works....I think I'll stay down here where we get road construction all year long.

I don't know what options you have for public transportation but we don't have much available here. Nobody wanted to work together 20-30 years ago when they needed to.

Unknown said...

Reforming Geek- It's pretty limited, and is currently having financial problems where it may become even MORE limited. Our city and its suburbs are fairly sprawly, so mass transit ends up being quite time consuming. I did it for a number of years, and the advantage really is to the folks with cars.

Da Old Man said...

NJ DOT is no better.
BTW, according to the bonds issued, the NJ Turnpike tolls will end as soon as construction is finished. I'm pretty sure the Tpk is older than me and should be done soon. :)

Artemis Irascible said...

It's even better when it "will be completed by fall" and come winter, we're slushing by haphazard permi-frosted orange cones...

Unknown said...

Artemis- Heh, it might very well be that way, based on what I saw this weekend. Maybe we can make the cones nice protective igloos, to prevent freeze cracking. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is Los Angeles there is nothing but Traffic due to some retarded construction...either that or a 16 year old girl wrecked her car on the 101. Grrr

Chat Blanc said...

oh those rat bastards! how dare they mess with your mind like that. it's wrong, wrong, wrong. But, maybe you can get a Dr.'s excuse not to drive. yeah...

Anonymous said...

"The tricky part, of course, will be to ensure I get a shrink on the proper side of the Parkway. Because if the doc's in Monroeville or off the Turnpike, well... I might just not be able to make my appointment."


We've endured months and months of closed off lanes, traffic cones, cranes, yellow-jacketed 'workers' and so on this summer. Or was it this year. Maybe it will stretch to 'this decade'. It seems to just go on and on and on. No sooner do they reopen a road than they close another,, or REclose the same one!!


Good luck with finding that psych!!

Unknown said...

Jayson- Having seen some of the highways out there in L.A., I feel for you. Every day, driving has to be a serious adventure.

Chat Blanc- Heh, I'll ask the ol' doc about that one. Hey, maybe I could start telecommuting! :)

Jay- Oh, they were talking on "Top Gear" not long ago about some of the fun traffic challenges and construction you've had to deal with there in England. I recall laughing because it sounded SO familiar.

Meg said...

One wonders if they have secret stock in public transit companies--cause they sure do make it appealing.

Unknown said...

Meg- I still think I'd rather be sitting in my own car for 2 hours to go 4 miles, than to be sitting on a bus, with some kid kicking me and a smelly person leaning on me and...

Babs (Beetle) said...

We might actually like to see some road works taking place on our local roads. We need to wear hard-hats for protection! Our heads are in constant contact with the car roof while driving along our roads, they are so bad! The tarmac got washed away in the serious floods we had two years ago, and they still aren't fixed. They were bad enough before the flood.

Anonymous said...

At least your city isn't trying to trap you inside city limits. I swear to you that is what they are doing here in Montana (Billings specifically). And they don't announce road closures here on the news, rather they do it in the newspaper which you know only a small percentage of the people subscribe to. So any given day I could be faced with the road closure barricades and trying to figure out how to get to work. I've considered going home and just calling in to work as trapped. ;)

Unknown said...

Babs- Keep that hardhat handy, then! Better safe than concussed. :)

Chyna- It's true it's good they're mainly doing this work on weekends and evenings, so we can get to work. I don't blame you all for wanting to just forgo the drive.