Despite continuing improvements -- most of which really are improvements, too -- the interstate highway system around and through Indianapolis routinely grinds to a near-halt at rush hour. My work hours and usual worksite offer a nice view of the evening rush hour on the "inner loop" (not an actual loop, for various reasons) and it's pretty awful.
Oh, other cities have it worse, and down at stoplight level, if you know your way around, rush hour's not so bad. But make no mistake: at peak times, highway traffic regularly slows to a crawl.
When I took Friday afternoon off to go to the Indianapolis Hamfest and Tam wanted to go along, I asked her to be the exit timekeeper: "We need to be headed towards the gate by four."
She kept close track; after a break while she took pictures of a classic TransAm in the parking area, we were in my saunamobile and headed for the gate about a quarter after four, and navigating our way around I-465 minutes later.
Tam was minding the exits; that stretch of 465 grows to five or six lanes across, which are then peeled off in a series of "Exit Only" lanes, one after another, and being in the wrong one at peak times can be a problem.
Traffic was moving along briskly -- 70 mph or more in the middle lanes, and yes, it's all posted at 45 to 55. I had swung out to get around a truck in the thickening traffic when she told me to start getting over. Moved over one lane, two-- The traffic ahead suddenly erupted in brake lights and in seconds, we were at 35 miles an hour or less.
There were occasional gaps and I kept on working my over to the next-to-rightmost lane as exits went by. Tam had been a little quiet, thinking about something, and then she spoke,
"From 70 to Castleton, it'll be down to one lane all weekend. There's some big project."
"You don't think they got an early start? Surely not."
The traffic was getting grim, packing tighter and slowing. A few impatient souls were slipping across lanes from gap to gap with NASCAR levels of clearance, which wasn't helping. I concentrated on getting through it. Our exit is a long, two lane "collector" that combines two off-ramps and an on-ramp, with a four-lane weaving section in the middle of the run. I was in the innermost of the two right lanes, so we should be okay, right?
Tam: "Bobbi! We're missing our exit!"
I had forgotten: only one lane peels off, splitting into two immediately. Luckily, three cars to our right had taken the farthest-right lane as soon as possible, leaving a good-sized opening. I checked the mirrors, glanced to my right, and hit the gas, making the exit at the last possible second, trespassing only a little over the white line.
Freeway driving! You can have it.
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