I like you.
I like your ever-expanding color palette of safety-inspired fashions.
I like your hip, shortened name denoting mobility and Cali-style fun.
I like the fact that you are out there every day making sure the roadways are safe, free from debris, streamlined for traveling efficiency, showcasing the application of highway-supportive dollars.
What don’t I like? Surprises.
Oh, don’t get me wrong I like the good kinds of surprises that include cake, gifts, cake, and discovering long-lost friends and pieces of my newly excavated wardrobe.
The kind of surprise I’m not fond of, my darling Caltrans, is a highway rerouting on a busy, post-holiday-weekend Tuesday. This type of surprise never offers cake, or gifts. Typically the only discovery I’m making is how adept I am at keeping my Honda Civic from qualifying as an unofficial entry in the Caltrans-sponsored Bumper Car Rally.
There I was drafting off of the feeling that only a three-day, fun-filled weekend fueled by a pay day and poor choices can provide. I was cruising along with my commuting comrades at an altitude of approximately 67 mph when I noticed all was not well along the Sacramento Westbound 80 corridor, beyond the usual dull roar of traffic.
Initially I figured there was just an unearthly mass of worker bees attempting a return to work in order to make more money, having spent all of it during the aforementioned weekend festivities.
I was wrong.
Right around Truxel Road is where it all went to heck in a medium-sized car. The road I had traveled previously diverged and then disappeared. In its wake were a myriad of low, cement walls, squished orange cones, and redrawn lines that looked as though the Caltrans workers had had an even more entertaining weekend than I had.
In short, none of it made any sense and we had no warning. Zip. Zilch. Nada. There was a collective metaphorical scratching of commuting heads as we all slowed down, pivoting our heads this way and that, trying to figure out: a) Who was punking us?; b) Where had Highway 80 West/San Francisco gone?; and c) Had I-5 South/Los Angeles gone with it?
Adding to the fun of the whole fiasco was the fact that an autobahn-inspired merging lane was coming at us as we struggled to decipher the Transportation Code that would gain us entry to our next Highway Portal.
I felt as though I was inside a video game and it was exactly how you would think it would be: life-threatening, hot, and uncomfortable.
While I appreciate the forwarding-thinking, save-water-for-drinking messages Caltrans has crafted and strategically placed on their signs, I can’t help but feel a small message regarding a LARGE rerouting might have merited more board time.
Here’s a sample: Dear Commuters: Good morning. We have a surprise for you, so stay tuned! Love, Caltrans.
Dear Commuters: I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I know we did. You will see what we mean. Fondly, Caltrans.
OR even more helpful.
Dear Commuters: Warning. We have rerouted your journey, so for god’s sake slow down, take stock of your surroundings, hover your foot over that brake, and get ready for the ride of your life. Cautiously, Caltrans.
Change is good, Caltrans, and by that I mean: Please change your signs. Love, Commuting and Rerouting.