Saturday, May 09, 2009

I Can't Feed On the Powerless

On a spring day, a young instigator's mind turns to registering dissatisfaction with the status quo, and foliage. I started writing letters about this constuction project two years ago. Some months back, I wrote to one of the unnamed university's urban planners about the time it was taking to finish a relatively simple paving project on Route 27 under Route 18. The urban planner, evidently uncomfortable with the words corruption and visible to any idiot assured me stiffly that the project would be finished in April of 2009. In the meantime, this corridor was closed for a weekend during which about half a day's work was done, and since October, on few occasions have workers attended the traffic cones, displaced lanes and construction signs. This project is going nowhere fast.

Longtime readers of Poor Impulse Control may recall that my mouth has the power to move mountains, and so it would be effortless to imagine that someone, deep in bowels of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, has heard my piteous mewling and decided to punish commuters on two major roadways, possibly for a year or more. Though I am indeed a special snowflake, let us resist this blizzard scenario. For one thing, because New Jersey is rife with corruption we can all see and for the most part expect. Sometimes, we even benefit from it. If we were to accept that my protests changed the pace at which this project was being completed we would have to attribute to me the power to piss off corrupt officials. That is too much to believe. So this must be some professional-grade incompetence at work. Impressive, isn't it?

As I've also mentioned before, the two buildings in the distance in that last picture were designed by I.M. Pei in what can only have been the most desperate moment of an otherwise interesting career. The building on the left is the Hyatt. No one can afford to stay there except guests of Johnson & Johnson and you see people with little wheelie suitcases crossing Route 27 and tripping bicyclists all the time. It's like a video game with lacerations and credit card reward points. I took these three pictures walking on the Albany Street Bridge toward New Brunswick, and on this picture I looked over the side. That asphalt is new and those street lights are puzzling. Right now, they light the homeless, who live under the bridge I'm standing on. The street lights are a portent of something we've all wondered about: what are they doing with the river front? It doesn't take a genius to know that when the river rises those lights will be halfway under water, along with the luxury housing on the other side of Route 18. It's a flood plain.

Last September, I photographed this corridor. It's changed somewhat. This stretch is so bad for bikers I can't picture riding to work until it's fixed. The other side of the road was fixed in a somewhat conventional sense but I still wouldn't let my worst enemy out on that side of the road.* The best thing on that side of the road is when cars fly off the Route 18 ramp and come to a screeching halt because cars exiting Route 27 have the right of way and really bad attitudes. As a pedestrian, I want to get right in the middle of that.

I do like that my shadow resembles that of a giant squid. I feel underdressed without tentacles.

These spots are very close together, but shadows deceive. Two people my size could not walk side by side on this path and people who meet must negotiate their passing. There's a second aspect to this: the grade. Under the overpass, water pools. It's rained off and on for more than a week. Where there's dirt it's all mud, and dirt is everywhere. People walk this pushing baby carriages. I hate to think of them crossing paths with the seemingly endless parade of young men cycling to jobs in every kind of weather.

In the center of this picture looking back behind me you can't see where old pavement was cut and new pavement now sits almost a foot lower because I am a sub-par photographer. When a rain cloud forms, people turn truly stupid on this very spot. They drive right into a pool of pooling water and sit there, waiting for the light on the other side of the bridge to turn green. That light is at least 100 yards away and not visible from this spot. I wonder if this spot was engineered with the blessing of towing companies, or perhaps it's a municipal fundraiser.

Truly, the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. This spot is actually getting worse. It's really hard to negotiate this place between the overpass and the Hyatt without getting muddy. When I attain the traffic light ahead, I know that it's 100% certain that I'm as muddy as I'm going to get, barring a sudden altercation with corporate landscapers. Which could happen. Possibly. Even though it never has. Anyhow, I compared the images from last September and these and I was actually surprised that anything had changed. There's still a light that tells pedestrians to go but no light to arrest vehicular traffic, but apparently the Department of Transportation considers a few high-speed maulings the price of doing business.

This project could have been finished easily in a matter of months. Instead, it's dirty, dangerous and will probably go on for as long as possible. Even the mob would be embarrassed.

*She is still SUCH a BITCH.



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