Thursday, August 18, 2005

Traffic Circles

This fellow talks about traffic cirles. Many drivers today have never seen a traffic circle, but there is still a big one in Alexandria, LA, on MacArthur Drive, the main drag through town. You can see a picture of it here.

It sucks. It sucks big. It was built back during the Louisiana Maneuvers, which was our run-up to WWII, to move troops around Alexandria. The Army, in all their wisdom, put in a traffic circle, and it's still here, confounding traffic to this day. There used to be two of them, the South circle and the North circle, but the North circle got swallowed up in Interstate Highway construction. The North Circle was a horrible place, about forty yards across, and two major highways emptied into it. The State Police put a troop headquarters next to it so they could walk to the wrecks. Two wrecker companies put up shops beside it, too. It was that bad.

When I was a kid, we used to get our pellet guns and ride bicycles to the South Circle, park in the median and hunt squirrels there. It is big enough for that. The diameter of the South Circle is a couple of hundred yards across, and the center of it is grown up in timber. One day we were hunting in there and a city policeman came and ran us off. It seems that the City of Alexandria had annexed the circle, and we couldn't hunt there anymore.

I learned to drive on the South Circle. It was the first road I had ever seen with banked curves, and yeah, you could get some pretty good velocity going around that circle, if the traffic was light and you had a belly full of beer. (Don't ask me how I know that.)

As a late teenager, a bunch of us would meet there late on a Saturday evening, after we had dropped our dates off, and hold an impromptu NASCAR race around the circle. Back then, there wasn't enough traffic to bother with, and we never got into trouble. We had to pull vehicles out of the ditch a couple of times, but someone was always there with a pickup truck and a chain.

One night, we talked a state trooper into clocking us on a straightaway. He agreed, and we had an opportunity to see what our cars would really do around that traffic circle. If we got caught doing that today, the whole bunch of us would be in jail. Including the trooper.

It was a different world back then.


Kelly(Mom of 6) said...

I was born in the wrong time era.

oyster said...

Up north they call traffic circles "rotaries" or "roundabouts". An even less-used, but more accurate, name is "gyratory circus".