I’ve used this space over the years to deliver what I aim to be blistering screeds on things that disturb my sense of Wa.
For those who have no idea what that means, neither do I, but here goes another example of why my wife says I need to stop whining and go live on my own private island, all by myself.
For example, D) on my list are human tailgaters, the people you don’t know who get real close to you in checkout lines like you’re in the way. Either they’re weird or I am.
Now, for the top three.
B) Criminally bad drivers.
C). The wave of residential and commercial development rolling like concrete and vinyl-siding slurry from Rincon through Pooler past Richmond Hill. It contributes much to A, which causes B.
You see, while we weren’t paying attention the last 30-plus years, this place grew. And at the same time, motoring in the Coastal Empire turned into almost-as-bad-as-Atlanta, which is like driving in one of those circles of the inferno Dante wrote about. The one where nobody yielded to oncoming traffic and then drove slow in front of you. Forever.
And so, there’s almost never a place to just drive anymore, no open road ahead or behind, not hereabouts except for lonesome hours. But there is this thing called the pucker factor, and I have reached its higher numbers a time or two on the I-16 overpass on I-95.
Worse, every entrance ramp you pass from Richmond Hill to Port Wentworth is stacked with 10 or 11 cars driven by people queuing up to get onto 95. And at any given second a minimum of two of them are apt to decide the guy in front whose turn it is to merge isn’t pedaling fast enough, and out they scoot.
A few months back a driver about 13 cars behind me at the I-95 south entrance ramp at Highway 21 jumped the line, shot into the middle lane in a cloud of burnt oil smoke and no turn signal and sideswiped some unsuspecting soul who’d probably only been on the Georgia side of the Savannah River for about half a minute.
Welcome to Georgia.
Not long after that, somebody in Pooler stopped in the middle lane of 95 at rush hour to get off at Tanger Outlets. The slow lane was backed up, you see, so the driver just stopped in the middle.
That one was a pucker factor five. And that leads me to this, because if it isn’t 10 or 11 cars trying to get on the interstate, it’s 300 trying to get off and backing up slow-lane traffic to a standstill, like it does sometimes from Highway 17 almost all the way to Highway 144.
Also, consider the plight of those poor folks in fine homes who live alongside 144 east, the ones who appear to have lost a good portion of sweeping front yard in the bargain to four-lane the highway and make commutes commutable again for so many.
If they thought living on a two-lane 144 was interesting, wait until us drivers have four whole lanes to play with, two in each direction. And if that doesn’t cheer you up, consider this, because I speak from experience.
As I’ve griped before, my least favorite road in the world, the one I dislike more than I-95 even, is Highway 21. I live a mile away from 21, roughly, in a place where cows used to graze next door and you could stand out in your front yard at 6 p.m. with a cold beer in your hand and water the azaleas without worrying about anyone driving past.
These days, I hear the roar of traffic on that road in my sleep, and in the mornings, and in the evenings. The roar almost never ceases. Except, maybe, when the sirens start.
Funny thing is, not all that long ago 21 was two lanes, until it got so congested the big shots four-laned it. That led developers to develop and builders to build, because nowadays roads are built to stimulate economic development, which mostly means subdivisions and convenience stores and Dollar Generals. That stimulation put so much more traffic on the four-lane 21 they had to build a fancy new interchange at 95 to keep traffic from backing up six miles in the morning, even though sometimes it still does.
It’s added red lights and media cuts, and wrecks are still frequent, as exasperated drivers tired of waiting to get going damn the torpedoes and pull on out in front of people who’ve been slow rolling for an hour to or from or too Savannah all day and drive like Steve McQueen when they got some space. Collisions are frequent.
In fairness, maybe the new interchange at Belfast Keller will keep 144 and South Bryan from going down the same road, even as thousands of new homes and all the attendant stuff they’ll need are built in the area. I hope that’s the case, but I’m not hopeful.