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A Grin at the End: Parklandia – Driving 1-5 or 1-205 can cause you to swear

carl-sampsonMy wife and I were heading for the airport, on our way to pick up one of kids. Oh, did we get I-205ed.

To the ultimate max.

It took us an hour and a half to get from Clackamas to the airport, a distance of 14 miles. This was on a Saturday night.

When we took our son back to the airport, we got I-5ed. It took about two hours to cover the 61 miles from our house to the airport. According to my calculator, that’s a little over 30 mph.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that everyone reading this column has had a similar experience, probably a bunch of times. Ask anyone who recently attended home football games for the Ducks or the Beavers. I-5 South is a nightmare when both teams play at home. One friend suggested the left lane for Ducks and the right for Beavers, just to make traffic flow faster.

Once we went to a Blazer’s basketball game. We left Salem at exactly 5 p.m. and arrived at the arena at 7:30 — a half-hour after the game started. Thanks, ODOT. That’s also the last time we tried to go to a Blazer’s game.

My wife drives to Beaverton and back several times a week. It regularly takes nearly twice as long as you would expect for a 57-mile one-way trip.

I’m to the point that I wonder how much too long it’ll take me to get to the airport and appointments in Portland.

I’m also to the point that I avoid Portland as much as possible. In fact, I call the city of traffic jams Parklandia. I know the odds are better than even that I’ll end up sitting on I-5 or I-205 doing nothing for at least part of any given trip. I’m not one of those guy that expects all traffic to go the speed limit all of the time. I just expect it to go.

In our house I-5 and I-205 are four-letter words. If I skin my knuckles working on the car, I holler, “I-5 it.” Or I’ll say,”I-205 this” and head for the refrigerator for an ice tea. If I get really mad I’ll yell ”ODOT!” at the top of my lungs.

Once upon a time, driving was pleasant. We could hop in our cars and head in any direction and expect to get to our destination in a timely manner.

Not any more. Our highway planners just haven’t kept up with the times. I don’t know why. I just assume the politicians haven’t given them enough money to do their jobs. Politicians are like that. They often take their eye off the important stuff and become fascinated by anything shiny that catches their attention. Kind of like a kitten, except not as cute.

I suppose we should tap our political masters on the shoulder ask them to please fix our roads so they don’t waste our time and money whenever we try to do business in and around Portland — I mean, Parklandia. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. Politicians are famous for making promises they can’t keep.

In two weeks I have to catch a flight at the airport. I’m not going to risk missing it because of I-5, I-205 or ODOT. I’m going to go to the airport area the day before, find a hotel room and stay the night. It may cost a little more, but at least I’ll be able to get to the plane on time. I can’t afford to be I-5ed or I-205ed every time I need to go somewhere.

Carl Sampson is a freelance editor and writer.
He lives in Stayton.

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