Monday, January 25, 2016

The Road to Sprawlville slows in snow

There was criticism and some snickering on social media last week when the Washington, DC area slowed to a rush-hour crawl in a light snow before the blizzard hit.

Folks here in Wisconsin do have more experience with snow days, but, in fairness, don't face the massive commuting snarl that extends for hours and miles in most major American metro areas.

In this the 64th installment of an occasional series - - The Road to Sprawlville - - let's note that government-and-developer-induced sprawl has pushed the commute in the DC area far into Maryland and Virginia, and beyond rational urbanity and planning sanity.

I knew a woman who commuted daily to her job in Northwest DC from Delaware; another man I knew who lived an hour away in Maryland on a good day was in a car pool to downtown DC that picked up a guy in Harpers Ferry, W. VA.

And years ago I met a man in Santa Fe, NM who'd moved to that small city from Southern California because he'd grown tired of a morning commute he had to begin at 2 a.m. in Orange County to get to work on time reliably.

Atlanta has had its issues, too, but, in reality, snow and ice at rush hour would make life miserable for long-distance commuters in most metro areas if one truck jackknifes and chain-reaction collisions multiply.

Throw in the tyranny of the nterstate-highway exit model - - no escape for the hemmed-in but for every two-to-five miles or so - - and an inconvenient snowfall is going to keep people stranded even in Wisconsin, the record shows - - without plowing relief.

Final wintry thought: how many of us have in our vehicles snacks, water, blankets and a full tank of gas, just in case weather and the 'planners' attack together?

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