Driving through Riverside this summer? You’d best have a podcast downloaded or an audiobook in the car. What with Highway 22 squeezed into one lane and milled down to jaw-jarring perfection, August is starting to feel as long as a starship journey to Vulcan with the warp drive disabled.
Just getting from the town proper to Hwy. 218 can be a test of patience or a white-knuckle adventure, depending on your luck in the stoplight lottery. At best, you’ll catch a green light, bump your way through the S-curves and get a visual update on the infinitely slow and complex process of building storm drains, gutters, curbs and sidewalks. If the signal gods aren’t smiling, you may see your fellow humans’ darker side — or even your own.
Some drivers ignore “Do not pass” and “”Do not block intersection” signs. Others speed around a line of cars waiting at the red light to crowd in at the front. When the road clears, the light turns red. If you’re entering Riverside from the east at the coming-home hour, just count on a three-signal-change wait. Even Mother Teresa might tear her hair out.
The ordeal is all worthwhile. The refurbished highway through town will be beautiful, especially combined with last year’s new streetscape. Until we’re driving on silk, here’s a plea to all motorists to breathe deeply, treat others as you’d like to be treated and remember, above all, the safety of the workers choking dust to make things better for us.