Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Living on the Freeway


Some of you local San Francisco Bay Area types may have heard of an accident recently involving a tanker loaded with gasoline and a particularly grueling stretch of freeway. What you may not know is that I live, oh, less than half a mile from the section of freeway in question. And now, thanks to the powers that be, all freeway traffic that would normally be bypassing my lonely stretch of industrial West Oakland is hurtling down the major thoroughfare in front of my house at freeway-like speeds.

I've watched the news the last few days (those of you can be as aghast as you want to find that this is not a normal occurrence for me) and listened to traffic reporters gratefully relating how traffic has been lighter than normal. There was even a mobile news van set up on the corner for about six hours on Monday with a reporter going on camera every hour or so. Had I known what kind of hogwash they'd be spilling, I'd have run out there with Arabis in tow and given them what for.

"How's this traffic affecting the neighborhood?" Ross McGowan of KTVU asks the anonymous reporter hanging out at the Arco station up the street.

"Oh, it's no big deal. It's great for small businesses," our clueless correspondent replied.

There is, wait let me count, *ONE* small business between the two points on the detour and that is (da-da-da-DAH, you guessed it!) the ARCO Station (known in the neighborhood as Crackhead Central).

The reality is that between the cars racing down the street, the exhaust that has easily trebled (if not more), the noise pollution of horns, engines and screeching brakes (not to mention the almost constant drone of the helicopters overhead) have made this a nightmare. The irony of the entire situation is there are other routes one could take that go through less populated areas and shorter distances. One news report does have the decency to urge drivers to "Please use extreme caution while driving this detour route as it makes it way through neighborhoods with children playing and going to school." But judging from the behavior of the drivers outside my window, that is not happening.

I inadvertently drove above the site early Sunday morning (probably less than six hours after it occurred) while going to breakfast, having heard nothing about it previously (other than the incessant helicopters {which in my 'hood could just signify a big drug bust}). It was the most frightening thing I have ever seen. Instant flashbacks to the Loma Prieta earthquake. Especially since I live right in front of the site of the old Cypress Freeway structure that collapsed in that disaster.

Who knows how long this will take to fix, especially with a purported shortage of steel (most of which is going into the new Bay Bridge currently being built). Estimates range from six weeks to months.

Free public transit on Monday was a good start, but it seems it's going to take more than a little freeway collapse to get folks out of their cars. Until then, can anyone recommend a good air filter?

1 comment:

boogiemum said...

That must be a big pain. Sorry to hear the affect this has had on you. I have been missing your posts these days. How is your little one?