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The traffic jam soapbox

Most people have heard some version of the joke about Wisconsin only having two seasons: winter and construction.

While the construction bit isn't totally accurate (the winter part, I'm pretty sure, is fact) it comes from a true place. Road work in this state is inevitable in our few warmer months. People do let the occasional – and understandable – gripe loose, but for the most part, we do what we have to: suck it up and deal.

For all the indifferent tolerance we have for this condition of our commute, though, we seem to have an awful time playing nice on the roads when the orange barrels come out. 

Caught in gridlock, we seem to regress into full-on animal kingdom mode. The only thing, it seems, that keeps everyone from prying their way into a desired lane is imagining the ridiculous car repair bill that would result. 

I know it's too much to ask for the zipper effect. Someone always gets greedy. For every minute I see it work, I see five more of people thinking it's okay to literally merge into the car next to them just to get one car length ahead.

All I'm asking for is a little civility. The fine folks of Milwaukee are more than capable of that. Use your directional, look out around you, don't cut people off and for the love of all that is holy, don't get all up in the tailpipe in front of you.

I understand I can't single-handedly save transportation as we know it, and I'm cool with that. But a little karmic ripple, like someone looking to merge into the lane in front of me, is a cause I'm happy to get behind.


alba | May 11, 2011 at 9:34 a.m. (report)

As long as the road builders' lobby remains strong, there are always going to be major road construction headaches.

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