Sunday, March 09, 2008

Every Purpose Under Heaven

It rained here for a day and a half, sometimes with impressive ferocity but it didn't seem like anything special. It was raining. Then it stopped. As anyone who lives on a river knows, your weather matters but what matters more is the weather upstream. For two days, upstream, it was monsoon season. This morning, Pete and I drove two miles to Mr. DBK's house on the other side of the river, and to cross we had to backtrack around a flood plain. The park glistened where the river broke its banks and settled, bringing hungry geese almost to the road's edge. We decided then that later we'd go out and take pictures. Turns out taking pictures along the river just before sunset is a bitch.

The Raritan is a wide tidal river of variable depth. Pete and I both remember big boats on the river when we were children, their starling horns renting the air. Now, even the unnamed university's boathouse is a ghost town and it's possible the crew program's been disbanded; in any case, the only little motor boats on the river seem to glow a little and commute back and forth to the Arthur Kill. That can be seen from space, you know.

Mighty Route 18, which skirts New Brunswick before zipping across the river and stopping in the middle of nowhere, has been under construction for three years. I can see construction from my living room window, and listening to it has been pretty awesome. It's got a great beat, but absolutely nobody can dance to it. Years ago, I read the plans and saw something I didn't understand: specs for a tunnel under Albany Street, which is to say the bridge I walk across into the city. There's no place at the edge of the river where anyone needs a tunnel. I waited and waited, and one day I found the construction had hollowed out a section of previously stable Route 18 and Route 27 merge space, wrecked the road surface and put in a set of concrete stairs to ...nothing. The sidewalk I walk on is cracking under the pressure. The tunnel itself is crushed and failing. Well, that's not true. Along the edge of the river live the homeless, and these concrete steps take one to the spot where people have always lived out of doors. There's trash everywhere. When Pete and I went down to look at the tunnel, we saw someone living in it.

The tunnel goes nowhere. We'll go take more pictures - but not of the river people. They don't need attention. Someone besides us should know of this wasteful bullshit, and the tunnel that serves no purpose but to destroy the bridge.

Note: Fucking Blogger won't upload pictures tonight. I'll add them to this post later.
Update: Images added Monday night. Blogger's help board was full of messages about this since early Monday morning, and Blogger kept mum. I guess you get what you pay for there.

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