Highway construction and maintenance in Berks and beyond seemingly abound everywhere every year. Like dandelions, there’s no escaping it. So all of us are sentenced to waste away in clogged corridors of lost time.Or are we?In my brooding and bemused manner, I gave that question considerable reflection on a lazy Sunday morning. The Reading Eagle had knocked some cobwebs off my brain this morning with the news that a 2.5-year, $55.4 million reconstruction project will begin Tuesday on Interstate 78 in the Hamburg area. The project will reconstruct I-78 from the Route 61 interchange (Exit 29) to about 3 miles east of Hamburg. The Hamburg interchange (Exit 30) also will be reconstructed, and ramp configuration improvements are planned at Route 61.Short-term lane restrictions are expected during off-peak travel times from May until Labor Day, when long-term single-lane restrictions will take effect. This section of I-78 has an average daily traffic volume of 31,000 vehicles.Ouch! And the Route 222 project south towards Lancaster still is incomplete. Yikes!Anyway, back to the cobwebs falling from my brain cells. I suddenly recalled the network cartoon series “The Jetsons” that premiered on ABC in 1962 and transported all of us to the future of 2062.
Granted, we aren’t at 2062 yet, but it’s just a few blinks of fast-forwarding time away. After all, we crossed the threshold into the 21st century five years ago. You can look it up. It was in all the newspapers.
But back to my point: The Jetsons — beleaguered bread-winner George, loving wife Judy, hip daughter Judy, fun-loving Elroy and loyal dog Astro — didn’t motor around in a landlocked car. Rather they soared through the friendly skies in an atomic-powered bubble. And so did everybody else, including George’s irritable boss, Mr. Spacely.
Yep, they all zoomed around in the sky, with nary a construction delay or even a pothole to mess with their serenity. They just floated along blithely in the air like so much sweet smog.
Ignore the picayune details and let your imagination run wild. Instead of investing millions in never-ending road infrastructure issues, why not use the money to produce cost-effective atomic-powered flying bubbles for mass consumption? Where’s Detroit and NASA, not to mention the Japanese, when you need ’em? Such a quick shift in approach would obviously eliminate oodles of high gasoline prices, traffic jams, road construction and PennDOT coffee breaks.
Plus, imagine how cool it would be if we all were driving around in the Berks County skies, scoping out the spectacular vistas and getting a bird’s-eye view of how suburban sprawl is strangling all of us.
I concede that nothing is perfect in the world of reality, and the “Jetsons” wasn’t a reality TV show (that particular genre, I believe, had yet to be invented in 1962 unless you count the “Wonderful World of Disney”). So in a real world of flying cars and/or bubbles, exit signs obscured by clouds could be a problem. The same would go for kissing-the-sky billboards, mounted on towering poles raised by huge hydraulic lifts. And when accidents would occur way up there, vehicles would hit the ground like so many raindrops hitting an umbrella. Except the splash would be a tad more frightful.
Of course, perhaps we could cover all of Berks County with Styrofoam to cushion falls from the sky. That could be a job for displaced PennDot workers. And they also could find work as air traffic controllers. We’d probably need several thousand of them on duty at all times.
Don’t you just love win-win situations?