Sunday, September 23, 2018

you light up my life

I had no idea what was happening. It looked liked a coven of fluorescent witches had checked into Melaque

When I returned from San Miguel de Allende at the end of last month, I encountered a road crew on the main north-south highway running through Melaque. The crew had begun to cut the asphalt and dig a trench between the lateral road and the parallel highway.

I suspected the island that separates the two lanes was being extended. It made sense. That intersection is a target-rich environment to traverse. Installing a demilitarized zone might bring some peace.

One of Melaque's main streets intersects the highway there. The street's official name is Álvaro Obregón -- honoring the revolutionary general and president who was implicated in several Mexican assassinations and ended up dying on the wrong end of another assassin's gun.

But no one calls it 
Álvaro Obregón. It is either called "Whorehouse Street" for the business establishments it hosts or "calle de mariposas" (Butterfly Street) honoring the world's worst transvestite show company that was once resident there. (The bar is now closed for reasons that you will never see in writing here.)

Whatever the street is called, when it intersects with Highway 200, it becomes one of the most dangerous intersections I have ever encountered. (Probably the most dangerous is just one block away in Villa 
Obregón, where traffic entering from Reforma meets the highway.)

If you have ever tried to enter or leave the highway at 
Álvaro Obregón, you know what I mean. The street enters a drainage ditch immediately before it climbs a steep grade to the highway. To avoid waiting on the incline, vehicles usually pull part way onto the highway.

As I mentioned earlier, there are laterals on both sides of the highway. Traffic entering from 
Álvaro Obregón will often pull horizontally into the lateral lane causing oncoming traffic to pause -- or crash, whichever seems more convenient. The traffic turning onto Álvaro Obregón from the highway is forced to stop because there is no place to drive.

The solution? At first, I thought the extended median's sole purpose was to channel traffic more efficiently when turning across the highway. But, I was only partially correct.

It is actually a turning lane. My sleepy little town is getting its first traffic light. At the bottom of the photograph, you can see where it is to be attached.

Here is what I know. Apparently, the state government (Jalisco) has appropriated $1.5 million (MX) to upgrade Highway 200 through Melaque, including the traffic light. Even though that sounds like a lot of money, it is less than $80,000 (US). I doubt that would pay for an American consultant to start thinking about a traffic signal in Salem.

I do not know when the work will be complete. But I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly the preparation work was completed.

I am not a big fan of traffic signals. The studies I have seen is that accidents increase when new signals are installed. A major contributing factor, of course, is they often catch drivers by surprise.

If I had been asked, I would have suggested traffic circlets. Probably, three in Melaque. There certainly is space, and I like their feel. A cross between a carousel, bumper cars, and a re-make of Mad Max.

But, no one asked me. And I always feel a bit churlish when I start acting like an old expatriate or tourist who sees any change as a threat to some sort of imaginary paradise.

And for some reason that reminds me of Emma Stone's brilliant delivery of her monolog in Birdman: "
You're doing this because you're scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don't matter. And you know what? You're right. You don't. It's not important. You're not important. Get used to it."

That is exactly what I am going to do. Because it does not really matter, I am going to get used to it.

Whether I obey it or not will be another essay.

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