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Random Thoughts (Blog)

Memo to Georgia Dept. of Transportation: YOU'RE LAME!

Posted on May 29, 2010 at 10:13 PM

As we live in Myrtle Beach and my parents live in Florida, we have traveled I-95 South – surely the closest thing that the US has to an all out autobahn where driving 80 will get you little more than a shrug from the highway patrol – a few times a year for the past 12 years. And the one constant during each of those 12 years is construction at the SAME exact stretch of highway in a Georgia.

 

Now, I’m not talking about them slowly redoing the entire 150 miles or so that is their area of I-95 responsibility, I’m talking the SAME EXACT STRETCH of 15 or so miles. For 12 years. Just a long string of orange trash cans and blocked off lanes and "You're entering a construction zone" and "Let 'em work! Let 'em live!" signs. And in those 12 years, I kid you not, I’ve not seen a combined total of 20 workers.

 

So, what’s up, Georgia? Are you somehow bilking the government out of millions of construction dollars by dragging this thing out in perpetuity? Are you just too retarded to actually figure out how to complete the road? I mean, seriously, I know *nothing* about road building. NOTHING. But if tomorrow you told me I had 12 years to get a stretch of road sorted out, I’d get it done. My first call would be to the Georgia Dept of Transportation to ask which employees THEY use so I could strike every one of those names off my list.

 

Better yet, you’ve proved that you’re too lame to get it done, so turn it over to someone like the Army corps of engineers. I see the conversation going like this. “Men! Listen up! Georgia called. Them boys can't get it done. So they called us. Now, I'm not gonna have to tell the good people of Georgia we can't handle this am I?"

 

"Sir, no, sir!"

 

"Good! Now, listen up! We got us a plane taking off from Andrews Air Force Base in California. It will be here in 5 hours and I expect it to have a runway to land on when it gets here!”

 

“Sir, yes, sir!”

 

“And I expect this to be the ga-damndest, prettylookingest, award winningest runway in the whole history of these sweet United States. Now...what are you slack jaws still doing listening to me?! Get...to...BUILDING!!!”

 

And then, 5 hours later, the runway/road would be done and Georgia could just slink off in their shame to drag something else out.

 

For comparison sake, I looked up a few other building projects in history and how long they took. See what other states/countries have been able to get done during the 12+ years that Georgia has been repaving I-95.

 

The Empire State Building. A little something they threw up in New York back when building technology was really at its zenith back in the late 1920s. This 102 story building reached 1250 feet in height, and was built during the Great Depression, when, you know, the country was preoccupied with trying to entertain itself with things like eating. Length of time from site excavation to building opening? 16 months. Amount of work Georgia would have accomplished in that time? Putting down 102 orange cones.

 

Cheyenne Mountain, also known as Crystal Palace to you War Games fans. Throughout the Cold War and continuing to this day, this location collects data from satellites, radar, and other sensors around the world and processes that information in real time, originally to detect and respond to Russian nuclear missile launches. The design of this facility makes it one of the most unusual installations in the world, being housed 2,000 feet INTO the mountain. And besides all the mountain digging, the buildings inside are also built to withstand and SURVIVE a direct nuclear missile strike. So, you know, a little more involved than laying and striping tar. Oh, and they banged this out in under 5 years. Did I mention that I could withstand a nuclear missile impact? I did? Oh, OK.

 

The Transcontinental Railroad. This is considered one of the greatest technological feats of the 19th century, linking the east and west halves of the United States. The tools of the day? Swinging hammers, metal spikes and catchy little swing-your-hammer-in-time-jingles. Oh, and during the SIX years it took to build, the country was involved in a little something we like to call….THE CIVIL WAR!

 

The Channel Tunnel/Le tunnel sous la Manche, better known as the Chunnel. This one just hurts for a few reasons. For one, this tunnel is 31.4 miles long...UNDER SEA! Up to 246 feet deep at points! So when the workers get tired, they can't just walk over for a smoke and a breath of fresh air. Instead, they were, you know, worried about drowning, getting crushed by collapsing supports or nitrogen in the blood issues. But despite those little building quirks, in just 6 short years, they were able to figure out how to build a giant tube underwater linking two separate countries. Which, let’s be honest, is like a bajillions times harder than building a freeway on totally flat, dry land linking two separate states. (Georgia, in that analogy, you are the totally the in the way, cold and grey, English Channel.) And since Le Chunnel links the UK to France, you know that the French were involved in the building process. So, congratulations, Georgia! You suck worse than the French! Bon travail!

 

The St. Gotthard Tunnel. I’ve actually driven through this tunnel linking Switzerland to Italy a few times. It happens to be the third longest road tunnel in the world at 10.5 miles in length. It also happens to run right through the fricking heart of a mountain! A mountain! Like above you at every second of the way is millions of tons of rock. Waiting to crush you to death or smother you in the sweet surrender of carbon monoxide poisoning. You know that building the Gotthard required some cool ass technology like mole drillers and a way to get all that rock and dirt out of the hole they were simultaneously digging, enlarging, supporting and concreting. And this whole process only took 11 years. Of course, the Germans were likely involved here, so I guess we really shouldn't be surprised. We should just be thankful that the Georgia Dept of Transportation had nothing to do with the Normandy landings or else you'd be reading my blog in Deutsch  now. 

 

Finally a couple of canals; the Panama and the Erie. The Panama Canal is 48 miles long joining the Atlantic and Pacific. The French tried for 8 unsuccessful years (1881-1889) and lost upwards of 22,000 workers due to Malaria, yellow fever and landslides. (Quiet down, Georgia! The whole Chunnel thing is still too fresh in my mind to tolerate any gloating or anti-French comeuppance from you!) The US took over, lost an additional 5,600 workers but got it done from 1904-1914. The Erie Canal is even more impressive. Running 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo, New York, and completed in 4 short years! Four!!!

 

So, Georgia, I'll be passing through again in a few months. And I'll be checking up on you. Oh, yes! I WILL be checking up!

Categories: May 2010, Rants

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