My Summer Driving Vacation: Construction Alerts, Traffic Delays, Sprawl up Close

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

August 23, 2016

I’m of the age where the Sunday family drive was one of the week’s highlights. Now, after returning from a driving vacation starting from Western Pennsylvania, crossing Ohio, and ending in northern Michigan, my goal is to go to any reasonable lengths to keep my car in the garage.

Growing up in Los Angeles during the 1950s, the family piled into the trusty sedan after Sunday supper, and set off along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), destination Wil Wright’s ice cream parlor. See what California has lost during the last six decades in the CAPS mini-documentary, California: Then, Now.

My Vacation Scrapbook:
Pictures of road signs, lane closures.

As I embarked for Michigan, I had modest expectations that I might pass rolling fields, a fruit stand, or anything that smacked of rural America. But at least 85 percent of the trip had road construction alerts, lane advisories, lowered speed limits, orange cones and warnings that if my vehicle struck a highway worker, I’d be fined and imprisoned. GPS initially predicted my arrival time at 1:30, then 1:45 and finally 3:00. This is what overpopulation and the inevitable urban sprawl has wrought: nationwide gridlock.

David Blasdale, in his important essay, “Immigrants or Infrastructure: Choose One,” wrote about Seattle’s traffic conundrum. No matter how much money Seattle spends on new roads, the city has America’s worst traffic. Immigration-fueled population growth consistently outpaces the speed with which new roads can be built. Blasdale also mentions other over-immigration victims: schools, parks, waterways, electrical grids and affordable housing.

I took special interest in Blasdale’s article because I lived in Seattle from 1978 to 1986. When I left, I considered Seattle, the Emerald City, the most beautiful American metropolis I had ever seen. When I returned last year, I saw the urban mess that Blasdale described. Now Seattle is, like San Francisco, another city I’ll stay away from.

As Blasdale concluded: “The choice for America is either mass immigration or a sustainable, healthy infrastructure, not both.”


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