I’ve made a shocking discovery and have rushed to write an account for the world. I’ve uncovered a magical place off the Mileground, a spot where all rules of logic and science cease to exist, and chaos is left to reign.
No, friends, I’m not talking about the Matrix. This mystical location is the roundabout, a complicated fixture built to confuse and bewilder the unaware.
Made to ease the traffic burden of a crucial intersection, this geometric pattern from hell alleviates congestion only in the sense that drivers avoid it like the plague, choosing instead to take the perilous trek through Moria or the mountain pass at Stewartstown Road.
Anyone driving through Morgantown at rush hour will see our traffic issues, and the astute observer will see the need for more driving lanes, longer or shorter lights at key intersections and a few strategically placed yield signs. None but the most vile super villain would suggest a roundabout, especially with an expensive construction cost and an even busier intersection half a mile down the road.
I have a confession to make, though: this is not the first time I’ve encountered a dislocated piece of the Bermuda Triangle.
D.C. is full of these tricky intersections, and it’s my opinion they are partly responsible for the population of the city – people go there and can’t find their way out. I waited almost a year before moving for this very reason. Each attempt to leave resulted in being forced deeper into the city.
Of course, city planners tell us to wait, that full use of the new auto whirly-gig won’t be realized for another few years. But no one wants to wait.
With potholes large enough to swallow a Fiat, we want solutions now. Fix the roads by actually fixing the roads, not adding shapes to the mess. What’s next, a round-a-trapezoid? Something that allows eight lanes of traffic to come together, where they’ll all drive the merry-go-round before returning to their unacceptable long wait time at the next light? The idea is counterproductive, confusing and downright wasteful.
Even so, there are economic opportunities for the industrious student. A guided tour through this labyrinth could yield riches from the bewildered traveler. Willing to shoulder any price to get across, wayward adventurers would be forced to pay the price or wonder aimlessly in search of an exit. There would even be tax benefits for employing highly skilled Sherpas for this journey, though few would want to leave the safety of Mt. Everest to face this monumental task. Still, where there is a will, there is a way.
In truth, I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was to borrow Europe’s greatest civic engineering mistake and bring it to the Mountain State, but with constant construction and more patchwork than roads, the finest minds in Morgantown surely could have spent the money elsewhere.
The wise urban planner would heed our mistakes and favor the more traditional crossroads. Sometimes the known is safe, and those often-cursed red lights are a small price to pay for the certainty of reaching your destination.
Do not despair, for all is not lost. After some research, I have found a useful purpose for this traffic disaster. Physics tells us the faster an object moves, the faster that object also moves through time. So if one could approach the roundabout at near light speed he or she could leave for class late and arrive early. If Doc Brown of “Back to the Future” fame had known this, his quest for a flux capacitor would never have happened, the Libyans would still have their pinball parts, and Marty McFly would never have kissed his mother.
Until the city starts listening to the voices of its residents, we really don’t have any recourse. Really, all you can have is hope when you’re approaching the roundabout.
Having said that, I’m headed to the Mileground. I’ll see you yesterday.