The Land of Oz: Thank You, But I Think You Forgot Something

13 Jun 2018 Derek Osborn

Welcome to summer! We've skipped spring and entered directly into humidity heaven. Let the sweat commence!

I typically use this space of beautiful, contextual prose to try and enlighten lives in our community, or to make fun of myself, as a reminder that we are all humorously flawed individuals. 

But not today. Today, you get a mild rant… fueled by ongoing frustration. And I bet you can guess what it concerns before you proceed. 

A few months ago, an abundance of exquisitely shaped, ornamental orange barrels began lining the streets of the notorious Highway 69 south in preparation of expanding the old girl to six lanes. Wonderful! They even figured out how to make a two-lane bridge expand to handle three lanes of traffic by simply repainting the lines. Fantastic!

All of this, I assume, is in preparation of the much talked about 69s/Skyland overpass/flyover, which has been touted as possibly the greatest traffic reliever in the history of modern times. For movie-goers, and Outback Steakhouse lovers, and Chick-Fil-A addicts, and all residents of the 69 South area, let’s hope this is true. 

However, in the process of the six-lane expansion planning, there was apparently one glaring detail apparently omitted… turn lanes are important. 

This is not a knock on the road construction contractor. In fact, I think they did an excellent job… other than occasionally leaving those elegant orange barrels in turn lanes. 

But now, there are no turn lanes. And as stating the obvious is part of my shtick, this is problematic. Now, instead of utilizing the preexisting turn lanes to access roads, I’m sitting in traffic behind people in the right lane who are not turning, which is… wait for it… creating more traffic. 

To make matters worse, it is assumed that part of the reason for the expansion was to give the flyover crews new lanes to close during construction. Without turn lanes, we’ve got issues. Add in that drivers are now forced to slow down to a stop in order to turn among vehicles traveling 50 mph, and you better make sure your vehicle insurance is up to date. 

This reality check is not conceived to lay blame. If anything, it’s to raise awareness of an issue, so hopefully, someone who has more pull than I do reads this. The traffic issues in that area, and others around town, can be incredibly difficult to resolve. But in this case, turn lanes are not a minor oversight, especially when you are dealing with humorously flawed driving individuals… like me.  

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.           

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.   

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