I, on this blog, have frequently deplored the state of American infrastructure in general, but one might reasonably assume that the roads in the nation’s capital might be in good shape. Assume nothing!
Last night we drove home after a concert on the Beltway, the major highway that rings Washington DC. There was fierce, driving rain and it was pitch black. There was no lighting on this major 8-lane highway.
We wanted to reach a turnoff onto an arterial road towards the city centre. It was 10 p.m and I could barely see through the windscreen. Steering blind, I went off the main road at the intersection, or thought I was doing so. Instead, it was so dark that I hit a grass mound and then a concrete block, left there by the road builders. There was no safety shoulder to the rosd. We ended up stranded between two streams of traffic that were moving at about 60 mph. We couldn’t go forward onto either the main highway or the access road, because the traffic was too dense. In any case there sat the concrete block. Instead, wondering what damage had been done to the car itself, I was able to reverse with zero visibility through the rear window, not knowing where I would end up, fingers crossed, and expecting any moment to be rear-ended. This was the most dangerous thing I have had to do in fifty years. We did have a few seconds of respite that allowed us to back onto the roadway and drive away down the access road and safely home.
I describe this incident to illustrate the dire state of the roads, the inadequte signage, the lack of lighting at intersections, the suddenly disappearing shoulders, the indistinct lane markings, and the dangerous obstructions beside the highways. Bless the EU and its attention to safety and signage! It appears that American politicians are more concerned with maintaining over 600 overseas military bases than maintaining the roads the citizens drive on. My wife and I are lucky to be alive, and lucky the cars was not totalled.