A State in Which You Have to Be an Insider Just to Get Where You’re Going
I grew up a fifteen minute drive from the George Washington Bridge into New York City. I lived in Pittsburgh for a year. And I’m a wanderer. That is to say that I’ve been lost in some of the most confusing areas that the (expanded) East Coast has to offer, but tonight I discovered a specimen of poor street planning so spectacular that the city of East Providence ought to market it as a tourist attraction: where Broadway and Taunton and Waterman all jumble together in an explicable collection of diverging one-ways, replete with weird forks, sporadic signage, and highway-style exits onto normal roads, not to mention the quick dip into a tunnel that seems to have no purpose but to create an overpass to label with a memorial plaque.
So help me, the experience gifted me with a new empathy, as I could not help but think to myself, “No wonder Rhode Islanders act the way they do!” No road nor forest path has ever so thoroughly succeeded in disorienting me and corrupting my sense of direction.
As with everything in Rhode Island, what needs to be done is crystal clear to anybody with an ounce of objectivity, but the thorough reworking of contorted infrastructure would require the displacement of too many established interests. And those who’ve learned the winds and turns — whether not realizing how much they impair their lives or benefiting from others inability to find their way — develop a perverted pride in their toughness for simply surviving.
If we’re to change a thing, I suppose, we’ve got begin with each neighborhood, each block, convincing, collaborating, building a critical mass of interest in a better road.