The Mother Of All Traffic Jams

 

A few years back, I got caught in a nasty snow storm on I-84 in New York. A traffic accident, induced by icy roads shut down the west bound side of the interstate for several hours, leaving us all to sit there in the snow. Several of us truckers volunteered to let folks in passenger vehicles spend some time in our cabs and stay warm while we idled our engines so they wouldn’t have to decide between burning all the gas in their cars or freezing. For about five hours, we all made the best of it. But imagine a traffic jam that lasts weeks!!

My daughter alerted me to this story today on the phone, and our Diane Ellis sent the story to me this afternoon. What is currently a 60-mile backup near the Chinese capital of Beijing, stands every chance of lasting until mid-September. The reason? Road construction. Sound familiar? People caught in this colossal case of government subsidized constipation are moving along at, …get this… approximately one third of a mile per day. They should rip out their speedometers and replace them with calendars! I wonder if their construction zone has also broken out in a rash of orange government signs gleefully announcing their (unwitting and involuntary) participation in the Chinese Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MelFoil

    I hear there’s a lot of capitalism going on there too–water, cooked noodles, and snacks delivered to your vehicle at 3 to 10 times the normal price.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Contributor
    @jameslileks

    io9 has a nice YouTube collection of traffic jams, here.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Contributor
    @DianeEllis

    etoiledunord: I hear there’s a lot of capitalism going on there too–water, cooked noodles, and snacks delivered to your vehicle at 3 to 10 times the normal price. · Aug 24 at 7:24pm

    I got a kick out of this part of the story too. I’m intrigued by the way capitalism really takes off in formerly communist countries. When I spent a number of months in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) a few years ago, I was amused by how many privately owned portable bathrooms there were out on the sidewalks of the city. The owner of the Porta Potty would sit outside of the unit on a stool and charge 10 rubles for the use of their toilet, and another 10 rubles for a wad of toilet paper. There being close to zero public restrooms in the city, I’m sure these ingenious entrepreneurs made fantastic profits.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @DaveCarter
    Diane Ellis, Ed.

    When I spent a number of months in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) a few years ago, I was amused by how many privately owned portable bathrooms there were out on the sidewalks of the city. The owner of the Porta Potty would sit outside of the unit on a stool and charge 10 rubles for the use of their toilet, and another 10 rubles for a wad of toilet paper. There being close to zero public restrooms in the city, I’m sure these ingenious entrepreneurs made fantastic profits. · Aug 24 at 8:18pm

    Evidently, the folks that tormented the little girl operating a lemonade stand in Portland, OR, hadn’t made their way to Russia yet.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @tabularasa

    Speaking of signs touting the recovery act, about a year ago a sign was put on I-215 in the Salt Lake City area noting that the work ahead was funded by the recovery act. I drive this route regularly and have yet to see any work being done (unless, of course, the only work was making and placing the sign).

    Despite my advanced years and the fact I don’t own a shotgun, I’ve actually dreamt a few times of the joy that would fill my soul were I able to open a few big holes in the sign. Not exactly “blood of the tyrants,” but it would be own little moment of civil disobedience against a government operating without my consent. Also, it’s just a dream.

    But here’s the question. Is it good or bad that no work is being done?

    • #5

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