Since I was a little kid I’ve always loved songs about highways. One of my early favorites was Convoy. It was one of the first 45 rpm singles I bought. The other was Rhinestone Cowboy. Hey, I was only seven. My mom used to censor my music. Fortunately I think she was only looking for bad words so I still managed to get songs like Undercover Angel and Afternoon Delight. Those 70’s artists were so devious.
Convoy of course had speeding truckers taking on the police, otherwise known as “Bears” and “Smokies”. These truckers were barreling down the highway with complete disregard for public safety and authority. Back then the national speed limit was 55 mph and Congress threatened to withdraw your federal highway funding if you didn’t enforce it. My, how times have changed, especially here in Texas where we can now drive as fast as 85 mph on some highways!
As many of you already know, the speed limit has been lowered to 55 mph along MoPac and I’ve heard from a few people who aren’t happy about it. But, if you’ve lived in other parts of the country you know that lowering the speed limit to 55 mph in a construction zone is actually quite generous. In fact one of our local news reporters who used to live in Ohio pointed out to me that construction zones on interstates up there are generally 45 mph. I can confirm that as I spent a lot of time driving through 45 mph construction zones while taking my son to college in New York last fall.
Anyway, since my last blog the Smokies have been “as thick as bugs on a bumper and they even had a Bear in the air” on MoPac. And I’ve been hearing from folks who’ve been getting tickets for speeding in the construction zone. I was hoping I could help them out by mentioning the option to take a driver safety course. But it turns out if you are caught speeding in a construction zone when workers are present you aren’t eligible. By the way, the 55 mph speed limit does apply 24/7 and it’s also double the fine if workers are present. So you’ve been warned.
Another great song lyric that comes to mind these days is “Thank God for the man who put the white lines on the highway.” It’s from a song released in 1980 by the Cleveland based Michael Stanley Band called Lover. It’s a great song with the late Clarence Clemmons playing sax. I bring it up because we have been putting down temporary striping on MoPac in recent weeks. Part of my job is to field complaints, so naturally I’ve had a few about the striping.
The truth is it’s nearly impossible to remove old striping and cover it up completely without resurfacing the entire highway. We’ll be doing that toward the end of the project. In the meantime we’ve added reflective pavement markers between each stripe and it appears most drivers are adjusting to the new configuration. Just remember it will all change again a number of times before the project is completed.
Now, like everything in life there are always a wide range of perspectives on issues such as construction speed zones and highway striping. One of the best calls I had this month was from a gentleman who questioned why the speed limit needed to be 55 mph all the time. I mentioned the importance of driver safety given the temporary striping, barrier walls and changing conditions. He responded that the striping looked great! Go figure?
So with that in mind keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your… tail. We’ll catch you on the flip-flop. This here’s the MoPac Man on the side. We gone. Bye, bye.