Traffic Jams (HLD 370)

28 March 2021

I commence writing today’s bit of diarrhoea, in the passenger seat of a car stuck in a traffic jam.

The freeway system we have in our city is lovely – free flowing, easy access on and off, a little messy going past the city, but it gets you from one end of the metropolitan area to the other with ease. It works perfectly. Until it doesn’t.

Today we sit looking at cars in a stationary position all around us. The radio traffic report tells us that there are no problems on the roads, but obviously there’s something serious happening up ahead.

A lovely scene from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” is weighing heavily in my mind. Members of the ‘People’s Front of Judea” (although this title is disputed on another scene) sit around, discussing the oppression of their community by the Romans. Reg’s question “What have the Romans ever done for us?” was treated seriously by other members of the People’s Front, who offered their suggestions.

After robust discussion, they moved on by saying “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

The government department in charge of our road network is called “Main Roads”, so while we had plenty of time examining the car in front of us this morning, we COULD have bemoaned “What have Main Roads ever done for us?”

Because let’s face it, there are seemingly constant roadworks happening on our road system. They are either adding lanes, resurfacing lanes, putting in smart speed controls, putting up new bridges over the freeways, or one of a myriad of reasons they can justify reducing the number of lanes available, reducing speeds temporarily, or basically stopping the flow of an otherwise perfectly working freeway.

We are always assured that it’s ‘for the greater good’ – these improvements will make a positive difference in our travel experience when they’re finished.

When you think about how blocked suburban roads could get with the number of cars that zip along the freeway diverted onto them, you could almost say: “All right, but apart from the nicely interconnected road network, well spaced lanes, clear marking, and convenient on and off lanes – what have the Romans – sorry, Main Roads – ever done for us?”

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