Friday, March 10, 2006

No, not the trees!

Route 1 is the main artery here that takes me from Apex, where I live, north into Cary and Raleigh. Ever since I arrived, and probably for the next year or more, there has been construction on Route 1 in order to widen it to eight lanes total. Currently there are only two lanes in each direction, which does cause some congestion during rush hour--although I suspect some of it is due to the construction itself, a case of the cure making the illness worse before it gets better. Anyway, I have often wondered how they would possibly fit eight lanes of traffic, since there only seemed to be room for six at most. Today I got my answer. They are massacring the trees!

This isn't the greatest shot, but it's the best I could do while speeding by, and it gives you some idea of the tractors just clearing everything away as if it is so much detritus. It's really heartbreaking as you drive along to keep seeing more and more piles of felled trees just stacked up on top of each other waiting to be hauled away to who knows where, for who knows what purpose. I know trees get chopped down all the time to make way for roads and homes, and every day entire forests are consumed to manufacture paper and two-by-fours and tables. But a) I don't see it, which makes it easier to pretend it doesn't happen, and b) one of the neatest things about North Carolina is that when you're driving on the highways, it always feels like you're in the middle of nowhere because the sides of the highways are solid trees. In the winter when most of them are bare, civilization peeks through, but in the spring and summer, you can't tell there are grocery stores and office buildings and subdivisions behind the lush greenery. Now there are dozens, if not hundreds of fewer trees along the 1, and that makes me sad.

On top of that, I am irate on behalf of the poor folks whose houses back right up to the highway. They used to have trees to block the unsightly traffic and at least partially deaden the noise, but now the houses are in plain sight with only a couple trees here and there. If I lived in one of those houses, I would be livid. Of course, I wouldn't live in one of them in the first place, because I would never buy property with a busy surface street--let alone a freeway--in my backyard, regardless of how many trees serve to buffer. So it's sympathy ire. Which will fade, I'm sure, when my commute time is halved after the widening is complete and the piles of trees are gone. As they say, out of sight.... This is why I'd make such a lousy activist.

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