Constructive Comparison

Each time I visit someplace new-to-me, I can’t help but compare it to Minnesota…not that I’m always comparing for better or worse, I’m just interested in spotting the differences between. Most of this week, I spent my time cruising around New York and Connecticut on business. Prior to this, I was pretty much an eastern seaboard virgin as my travels have only taken me as far east as Philly, West Virginia and Florida (gulf-side) in the past.

I flew in to the crazy-busy JFK Airport right on time and procured my lovely aqua-colored Ford Taurus rental among the masses of other travellers. The instant I left the airport, *bam* I found traffic jammed up on the expressway. At about 10am I called my first appointment in Connecticut to let them know I was sitting bumper to bumper. She laughed and replied dryly, “Welcome to New York.”

It amazed me how much construction was in progress out there. Mile after mile, the projects ended and started up again. The sheer volume of traffic these roads and bridges see keeps them well torn up, not to mention the weather changes they endure. Lanes were closed, shoulders were packed with heavy equipment, speed limits were minimized – you know the drill. A good hour and two tolls later, I got out of New York and into Connecticut. The contruction carried on there too, as did the gummed-up traffic with only few reprieves.

As I crawled along on the roads, I noted soon after I left the skycraper-clad part of New York City that the scenery became very green. This area on the outskirts of NYC and heading into CT is just gorgeous and reminded me of Minnesota. The lush trees were starting to change to their autumn amber and gold hues, dripping leaves over the many rivers I passed. Hey, if you’re going to be stuck in traffic, this is the way to go. I didn’t see many wide open spaces along the freeway like you do around Minnesota, instead the freeways were very tree-lined. I also noticed loads of pretty parkways adorned with trees.

On the way back to JFK, I was caught up in a traffic jam on one of the beautiful sweeping NY bridges (which was also under construction). The transit police were stationed at the toll booths, pulling select people over to what I called the “penalty box.” This was a car-sized yellow rectangle painted on the ground where the driver could get out of the way of traffic while being questioned by the cops. Drivers all around me were honking because it was taking eons to get through the toll. A woman behind me was yelling obscenities out her window toward the toll booth (I couldn’t hear them because the road was so loud but I could read her lips and expressions in my rearview mirror). I stifled a grin and kept rolling forward at a snail’s pace with everyone else. The toll bridge was a bit of a novelty for me since we don’t have them in Minnesota; even though you have to shell out funds to pass through ($4.50), it was like entering a gateway to another world. And the architecture of each of these bridges was stunning if not just for their size.

So, after all I experienced on the road in these two states, I don’t think you’ll find me whining about Minneapolis traffic and construction for awhile. Well, a little while anyway…until it snows.

4 Comments so far

  1. Erica (unregistered) on September 30th, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

    I think the couple of times I’ve driven around NYC, I’ve been so worried about directions that I haven’t really taken time to enjoy the scenery. I do remember all the trees in Connecticut, though (and on Long Island, too).

    But, yeah, I’ll take Twin Cities traffic over that any day. Except for the snow….

  2. Dave Dash (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2006 @ 5:34 am

    LOL, I didn’t even read this comparison until *after* I posted my thing about Portland…

  3. Heather K (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2006 @ 8:19 am


  4. noodleman (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

    Connecticutt’s got some nice landscaped freeway … mainly the original 12-mile stretch of the Merritt Expressway. Originally it was designed as a private roadway for wealthy auto enthusiasts who lived in the area (read: Greenwich) in the 1920’s, then was given/sold to the state because the maintenance costs were too much of burden to be shouldered by so few people. (Imagine having to patch and repair a 12-mile long driveway.) It was, IIRC, regarded as one of the first concrete expressways in the country.

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