I have had the good fortune to visit a few of the world’s great cities. Paris. London. Madrid. New York. Los Angeles. While they vary in age, each of these metropolises exists as a symbol of mankind’s ability, ambition and drive.
Each is also notorious for its terrible traffic, and its alternately inept and murderous drivers. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. And if you haven’t been exposed to the incredible breadth of culture — and attendant lethal transportation — any of these places has to offer, I can assure you everything you’ve heard about getting from point A to point B in each is true. That shit can be terrifying.
So it is with some degree of experience that I assert that the stretch of State Road 60 from I-75 east to about Parsons Avenue in Brandon boasts THE WORST TRAFFIC ON THE FACE OF OUR EVER-LOVIN’ PLANET.
Nearly every weekday for the past 15 months, I’ve driven that bisected stretch of blighted suburban hellscape. (Sometimes I’ve driven it twice, though I actively seek out any and all alternative routes if I suspect for a second it might not add another 45 minutes to my commute.) I know every crumbling strip mall, every mom-and-pop ethnic food restaurant housed in the shell of a former chain restaurant, every mis-timed light.
I can count — on my hands, without running out of fingers — the number of days I HAVEN’T seen an accident, or the remains of a recent accident. And I would need all of my friends and all of their appendages to come close to counting the times someone has cut me off; stopped short at a perfectly green light; suddenly entered my lane to make a turn from the middle lane; turned right on red into my lane with about 15 feet of room to get up to speed; or generally just nearly killed me with some ignorant, thoughtless, jackass maneuver.
There appear to be only two types of driver on that asphalt whenever I must navigate it — dawdling, befuddled Romero zombies and aggressively sociopathic this-is-MY-world-bitchfag dunderheads. I can only conclude this is because there are only two types of person in the vicinity at the time: those who have been driven crazy by the fact that they have to be there even for an instant, and are frantically trying to get their shit done and get the hell out, and those who have already resigned themselves to the horrifying certainty that they have literally nowhere better to go.
(This isn’t to say Brandon isn’t full of wonderful people. I know it is. They just seem to be too smart or too lucky to be stuck on this particular stretch of road during rush hour.)
I couldn’t tell you which of the two types I pity/loathe/hate/pity again more, but I have a solution:
Let’s leave that piece of 60 to ’em.
Hell, the Office Depots and Burlington Coat Factories and Chuck E. Cheeses will all be squatters’ empires or corpse storage before long, anyway. Let’s wall that section of 60 off. Put cul-de-sacs under I-75 at one end and in the Home Shopping Network Outlet parking lot at the other. Extend the crosstown out to Valrico, and build in parking lanes on the raised tollway so tourists can pull over and watch the dawdlers and the bros (and bro-ettes) take each other out. It’ll put the St. Petersburg Grand Prix out of business in about seven minutes, and will only be ahead of the contemporary-gladiator murder games we all know are coming by a couple of years.
Plus, we could probably get it all built before anybody actually traverses that length of 60 from one end to the other.
Or maybe it just feels like that when you’re stuck there, just trying to get home alive.
Read more Scott Harrell at lifeasweblowit.com, or follow him on Twitter @lifeasweblowit.