Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Highway to Hell -- I-75 -- a Contribution from Dr. Ed Garten

Why do we who love automobiles often find that road trips today can be both hazardous and disconcerting, certainly not like the carefree road trips we often enjoyed as youth? This weekend my wife and I set off for what we thought would be a lovely weekend (indeed, our 41st wedding anniversary) in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.
Leaving the Dayton area around 4:00 pm on Friday afternoon we thought we'd be in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and our hotel within five hours or by 9:00 pm. However, when we got to Tellico Mountain (the mountain that divides Kentucky and Tennessee and always a treacherous stretch of Interstate highway at any time of the year) we quickly discovered that part of the roadway had caved in a few days earlier and that three lanes of traffic were down to a very slow one lane for about a five mile stretch.
You can image Spring Break traffic from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and other points headed down I-75. Not surprisingly but still extremely frustrating, we found ourselves in stop and go and mostly stopped traffic for a full 15 miles. As a result a normally five hour trip took 11 hours and we rolled into our hotel bed at 3:30 am on Saturday.
Saturday, groggy and bone tired we half-heartedly enjoyed a few hours touring through the Smokies and then a few hours at God's gift to entertainment -- Dollywood -- before turning in early for the evening. Ah, thinking that the trip home starting at noon on Sunday would be a piece of cake, just south of Livington, Kentucky, we encountered a totally stopped stream of traffic that we later learned had backed up for over 12 miles. We stayed in that back-up for nearly three hours before finding a place to cut across to the south-bound lanes and then taking back roads to Lexington and then onto Dayton where we rolled into our own beds at nearly 1:00 am on Monday morning. Again, a typical five hour trip took 13 hours.
We could say: "So much for travel today, live with it or stay home." On the other hand upon return home and checking newspaper accounts of the delay on the return home we were given pause to think: "There but for a few minutes and the grace of God, this could have been us." A gentleman from our very neighborhood was killed in the major pileup that caused our delay. If we had started out only a few minutes earlier we too might have been involved in this horrific accident. Is there a lesson to be learned from this story? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the simple thought comes to mind: "You too can leave home in your car and not return home alive." Stay alert, stay safe, and always drive defensively...........especially in bad weather conditions.
MOUNT VERNON, KY. (AP) - Interstate 75 has been reopened northbound in Rockcastle County after a multiple-vehicle fatal crash during heavy rain.
A statement from Kentucky State Police said three tractor-trailer trucks and four passenger cars were involved in the crash, which occurred near 4 p.m. Sunday at mile marker 61.
The Kentucky State Policy said an Ohio man was killed and three people were airlifted to University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington.
Police identified the man killed as 55-year-old Keith E. Holbrook of Beavercreek, Ohio.
Heavy rain and the wet highway were listed as contributing factors in the collision.
I-75 northbound was closed for five hours during the investigation and removal of damaged vehicles.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


Edward D. Garten, PhD
Coordinator for Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Specializations in:
Higher Education Leadership
Adult Education
College Teaching & Learning
The Richard W. Riley College of Education & Leadership
Walden University
155 Fifth Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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