Things blowing up and burning

You may or may not have heard the news: There was a major explosion, or set of explosions, with suicide bombers and everything, 31 or more dead, at the Moscow Airport. The details are sketchy.

And in a totally unrelated story, but still with an explosion, then there's this:


God's Highway, I 35w, is famous for the fact that it winds back and forth through Minneapolis. There is one cruve that requires drivers to slow down to about 35 mph. This is a major interstate. On a different turn, which is not as tight, a semi truck fell over about 10 years ago and landed on a man and his young son who happened to be "downhill" from the truck. They were crushed to death.

Ever since then, I've been careful to not be downhill (on the outside of the curve) passing or being passed by semi truck or tankers on this road or any of its on or off ramps. I think it matters that many truckers coming into this area have likely spend the last several hours on straight and flat highways. I see them going a little too fast on the curves, sometimes.

And, I'm sure there are those who think my careful avoidance of being next to a truck on any of these curves is unnecessary, that the aggregate chances of my being fallen on by a truck are very low, bla bla bla.

One of those curves is the too-tight ramp from the 65 mph highway Route 10 onto the 65 mph part of Gods' Highway (35W). This is the most commonly used ramp in my own commuting and travels, the location I check before I leave the house to see if it is clear. My sense of dread was vindicated last year when the Department of Transportation modified the ramp a little to make it safer. A little My sense of dread is further vindicated every time there's a slippery storm ... this is one of the places the SUV's and minivans go off the road pretty much every time.

But my feelings were especially vindicated (or confirmation biased, maybe) this morning when the above depicted event happened. That's a tanker truck burning out of control after tipping over exactly where my car would have been, had I been driving into town this morning and not avoided being next to trucks.

Close call!

Drive safely and have a nice day.

Here's the story.

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We have plenty of interchanges like that around New England. One of particular note is the I-93/Route 128 junction north of Boston, locally known as "Malfunction Junction" because traffic invariably backs up around there. (128 northbound drops from four lanes to three there, which doesn't help.) If I have to go through that junction, I always make sure I am going straight through it: if I'm going closer in to Boston via I-93 I'll cut over to 93 earlier, but if I'm continuing on Route 128 I'll approach that junction on 128. A few years ago there was an incident where a tanker truck tipped over and burned there, closing both highways (as well as schools in the towns bordering that interchange) and creating a mess for commuters--luckily, I didn't have to venture into Massachusetts that day.

Lingering next to trucks is a bad idea in general. They have a big blind spot, and if you happen to be in it when they need to change lanes, it won't be pleasant for you.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 24 Jan 2011 #permalink

One year a semi from Canada ran into one of the vertical supports on 93 in Boston (before the sinking of the highway) and caused a traffic jam from the north that backed up past the Merrimack and nearly to New Hampshire.

A former coworker was driving down Hwy5 to southern CA one night with her sons. He younger son was very sleepy and begged his mom to allow him to lie down in the back seat sans his seat belt. She reluctantly agreed. Some time later, an 18 wheeler that did not see them, moved into their lane driving them off the road, and overturning the car. She and one son were unhurt (in seat belts) but the youngest was tossed from the car and killed. The truck did not stop, and the HWY patrol officer responding doubted the driver even knew he'd hit anyone. HWY 5 is full of 18 wheelers, and I avoid them like the plague. In my area, we are lucky to have the largest truck free HWY in the country. HWY580 does not allow trucks of more than 2 axles through San Leandro and Oakland, CA and it is rigorously enforced by the HWY patrol.

close call! I leave Moscow in 11 days.

Keep your head down! Where to next? Here? Let me know if you need a ride from the airport.

very nice, thx, but no: Brussels.

It's easy to relate this to the Moscow roits on 14 December 2010. But then that might just be spreading the hate and discontent between Russia and the Caucus Region. And believe me, it's nothing short of hate. I was unprepared for that.

You see, the problem is that in the U.S. you don't actually learn to drive. Steering wheel? Oh, you mean that thing I rest my iPod on? Stickshift? (English: Gear lever). What the hell's that?
Now in balmy Britain no roads are straight! I think it was G. K. Chesterton who wrote "It was the rolling English drunkard who made the rolling English road". It's all because the field systems preceded the roads. And you had to go round Fred's field before you bumped into George's field and had to go round that.
I have a friend whose family owns a chunk of parkland surrounded by an eight-foot high wall and the road comes up to it, turns left, goes in a large semi-circle for a couple of miles round the wall and then turns left again and continues in a straight line.
Nope, if you want to learn to drive, come here!