Friday, July 24, 2009

Dear Metropolitan Dwellers,

The folk down here in the hills of southern Ohio, understand that y’all are upset about not getting the lion’s share of the federal transportation stimulus money. We hear that y’all are complaining that you have the nation’s worst traffic jams and some of the oldest roads and bridges, so the money should be going to y’all. Some are saying that y’all contribute three-quarters of the nation’s economic activity and that money should be returned by filling all those little pot holes we’ve heard about. I’m not sure what they are, but I do know of one farmer down here who lost his horse and buggy in a sink hole. He just shook it off and said it must have been the Lord’s work.

Well, I just want y’all to know that things have gotten down to the stems and seeds here too.

I have a cousin up in Cleveland, who started complaining that $115 million of $200 million earmarked for something called an Innerbelt-bridge was sent down here for the Nelsonville Bypass. I’m not sure what an inner-belt is up there, but down here it usually means the life savings someone carries around in a hidden pouch, because they haven’t trusted banks since the great depression. Word is out that that bridge might save some commuters about a half an hour in the morning, while the bypass will improve transportation to Appalachia.

It’s no secret that those up in Columbus would rather have Rt. 33 bottle necked to keep “all those” hillbillies from coming up from West Virginia. But being cut off from the rest of the state by inadequate ingress and egress will only keep us isolated from the rest of the state. Damn shame too. This is prettiest part—hands down. At the same time, I’m not sure we would care to see very many of those Columbus yuppies (going through their middle age crisis) riding into town on their Harley’s (no helmet and thousand dollar, designer shades) on weekends.

OK, I admit that fewer people live here. But does that mean we shouldn’t be getting some of “the monies” also.

Folk who live in rural areas don’t have all the services that y’all have in the big cities, so many times we have to make that long drive for certain things. Now, the bypass will make the drive to Columbus only a short one hour drive, instead of the one and a half hour drive that it is now. Folk in cities know that a one hour drive is like crossing town. But to us, that extra half hour makes the drive seem more like that dreaded long drive to aunt Gerdy’s for Thanksgiving dinner.

It seems like those up north have developed a sense of entitlement that Buckeye football fans have exhibited for years. If they lose one game, the season is over. Down here in Appalachia, if the Bobcats win one game, we’re happy.

So now the score is Nelsonville Bypass-1, Innerbelt-Bridge-0.

1 comment:

Janice Phelps Williams said...

I like the shops in Nelsonville, but not the slow traffic getting around it to get to Columbus.

Here's a there a correlation between how quickly we can interact with someone in Europe, via the Internet, and how long we feel it takes to drive from Columbus to Athens? When my sister moved from Columbus to Lancaster, her friends acted as if she'd left the state -- it was too far to easily visit. When I lived in Lancaster, a trip to Athens to hike seemed like a big deal; not something I would do regularly. And, it was only 45 minutes. Less time than it takes to watch a Law and Order rerun!

You grew up in a large city; I grew up in a small town where I thought my mom drove "really really far" to get to work, when actually it was only a 40 minute drive; longer in the winter, but having done a 45 minute drive from Sarasota-St. Petersburg (over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge) I know it can actually be nice to have that time to oneself (okay, there was a beautiful bay and a lot of sunshine involved).

Anyway, is there a correlation today between how quickly we get access to everything we want (movies, books, conversations with strangers, ATM money) and how long we perceive it is to drive 50 miles?

I think I need to re-calibrate my perceive-ometer and drive to Parkersburg, Marietta, and Charleston more often.

And, you're right. The hills of SE Ohio are beautiful and I'll bet 75% of Ohio residents don't even know what it looks like.