For long-suffering drivers, a National Motorists Day

Robin Miller

December 06, 1990|By Robin Miller

CHARLES STREET is being repaved from Homeland to Gittings. Cold Spring Lane, just west of Charles, is partially closed. Downtown, Mulberry Street can't be used for two critical blocks. The streets around Hopkins Hospital, and the resulting traffic mess, can't be described in polite company.

Right now it's subway construction that's being blamed for most of the downtown traffic imbroglios. In Towson, a desperately needed mall is being built, so teen-agers can have some place to escape from their overcrowded schools.

If Gilda Radner were still alive and living in Baltimore, she would say, "It's always something," and RobinMillerwe'd all laugh. But the reality of torn-up streets and endless parades of dump trucks is no joke. It's a daily reality, which it looks like we're going to have to live with for the rest of our lives.

I'm sure every one of the present and future street closings is necessary to someone. Many years ago an acquaintance suggested the real reason for endless highway construction was a shortage of pavement, brought on by the construction of the interstate highway system. Her contention, that pavement was simply being moved from place to place, was certainly a delusion. A government silly enough to pull pranks like this would probably expect us to believe lowering taxes on rich people would bring in more money, and we all know our wise elected officials don't think we're that stupid.

So let's assume all these street closing are for our benefit, and that all those guys in jeans are really doing useful work. Still, shouldn't we get some relief every so often? Don't we deserve a break at least once a year?

Shouldn't all the construction workers get a chance to stop leaning on shovels and get a chance to lean on a bar for a change? It's time for Congress to take a day off from the pressing business of soliciting PAC contributions and do something that will benefit Americans everywhere.

What we need is National Motorists Day, honoring all the brave Americans who battle their way through the endless construction zones we laughingly call our public highway system. For that one day, road construction all over the country would stop. For one 24-hour period, anyone could drive anywhere, without seeing a single "detour" sign.

Imagine the collective sigh of relief we'd all breathe. Everyone would get to work on time. The gas saved would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. All over the country, people used to traffic frazzles would be calm and happy. Bus drivers would smile, and pedestrians would be waved across the street, one dangerous lane at a time.

Maybe we could name the holiday after Robert Moses, who first dreamed of unimpeded highways criss-crossing the land, or after any one of a number of unrecognized traffic engineers. The name is unimportant. Commuters everywhere would celebrate this holiday joyfully and look forward to it as eagerly as children look forward to Christmas.

What would the rich people who own Congress demand in return for throwing us this small bone? Probably a moratorium on

income taxes for anyone with a net worth of over $2 million or something along those lines. A high price, true, but well worth it.

Robin Miller drives a taxi in Baltimore.

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