Paved With Good Intentions Contest: The Winner
It was an extremely close race, but t paciello, come on up and thank the academy. The readers voted your ode to the horrors of the Cross Bronx Expressway as the best description of the worst in American transportation. For your victory, you will receive a piece of Freakonomics schwag.
Interestingly, there is some independent empirical confirmation backing up t’s selection; the Cross Bronx was declared most congested freeway in America by the Inrix traffic-tracking firm (see this).
You can read t’s entry here (he was finalist number ten). Congrats also to Vicky and Brendan, who made it a horserace by using calming Eastern philosophy and spirited verse to try to come to terms with their trauma on Washington’s Beltway and Massachusetts’ Tobin Bridge. No schwag, but hopefully the catharsis will let the healing process begin.
Another close runner up was Mike’s entry on the I-80 in Nebraska. This raises a fascinating point: while potholed, construction-ridden, filthy, confusing, and hypercongested urban expressways are undoubtedly miserable, a well-paved rural road with high speeds and little traffic can also be a nightmare in its own special way.
One more honorable mention goes to those intrepid souls who wrestle with New Jersey’s Pulaski Skyway; its charms made it the single most complained-about road in the first round.
If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and take a look at the finalists — all were hilarious, as were the comments on them. Indeed, I’d also highly recommend checking out the posts that didn’t make the finals (you can see them here). There were many very funny entries which showed a lot of literary talent; the judges (USC’s Genevieve Giuliano and Mohja Rhoads) and I were sorry many of them had to be excluded.
And what would my entry have been?
Take a jaunt on the Indiana Toll Road in Northwest Indiana and you will wish the Industrial Revolution never happened. The road is lined for miles with decrepit factories, steel mills, refineries, tank farms, and plain old dumps containing God knows what affronts to nature. While the other roads in the contest were bashed based on their temporal, visual, tactile, or aural deficiencies, few roads in the country can top the ITR for olfactory demerits. But don’t test this by inhaling too deeply; other roads may waste hours of your time, but a trip through the toxins that float over the ITR may take hours off your life. Toss in frequent and ongoing construction, traffic jams, and new private management which recently doubled the tolls, and you have the ingredients for a transportation confection you won’t forget.
Again, thanks to all the very talented writers who contributed to the contest, and stay tuned for the next one.