August 18, 2008
Why do I claim Moron of the Day honors again? Because I was stupid enough to drive down one of the most dangerous highways in America and not realize it. Of course, you can guess what happened.
That's right. I totalled my car in a three-car dust up on Friday afternoon just west of Route 73 on U.S. Highway 20. Initially I and my passengers were stunned and bummed by the total loss of my new car and our clear inability to continue on to our planned camping trip. After several hours of cleanup and firefighters and exchanging insurance information, the officer offered to take me and my passengers into the bustling metropolis of Lena, IL.
The entire time we were dealing with the accident, I was told repeatedly by locals that this was one of the most dangerous highways in America. On the ride into town, while giving us a tour of the three blocks that comprised Lena, I was told more than once how dangerous that corner was. After being dropped off at the local pub by the State Trooper (hey, we definitely weren't driving and could use the drink) we were famous and were barraged by condolences from people that see this all too often.
Turns out, this highway has been a known issue to the government of Illinois for 40 years and nothing has been done to improve it. How bad is it?
The growth in travel demand along existing U.S. Route 20 has increasingly affected flow, particularly during summer and fall weekends when tourists and part-time residents travel within and through the project area. Most of the existing route between Galena and Freeport does not meet IDOT’s current design standards for a rural two-lane highway. Nearly fifty percent of the route contains horizontal and/or vertical curves that do not meet IDOT’s current standards for a rural two-lane highway designed for 100 kph (60 mph). Both crash rates and crash frequencies have been consistently above statewide averages for a rural two-lane route during the past twenty years. The project as planned would address these concerns. Upon completion of the project and the Mississippi River Bridge in Dubuque/East Dubuque, U.S. Route 20 would have continuous four-lane capacity from Waterloo, Iowa to Rockford, Illinois.
Again I remind you, this has been known for 40 years (the intersection just east of where I crashed was featured on the cover of an engineering magazine back in the 60's).
Fucking bastards. I loved that car.
Anyway, I'm obviously a moron for not being aware of the danger I was in and taking extra precautions. At least I was lucky enough to emerge without injury as did everyone involved. Thank God for small miracles.
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