Monday, January 3

THE BRIDGE TO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?

My wife Cathy and I returned home today from our trip to northcentral Kentucky to visit family over the Christmas holidays. While our return trip south was considerably less harrowing than our earlier trip north through snow, sleet and ice, we nonetheless encountered two days of persistent rain, so you couldn't relax behind the wheel. I've had my fill of long distance driving for awhile and if we ever again opt for driving over flying, the next time we motor north to visit family I'm bound by an oath exacted by my wife to avoid the miserable state of Arkansas. How could a four-term governor and two-term president have done so little for his own home state other than to erect a glass and steel edifice to his own glory and to look after Tyson Foods' and Wal-Mart's interests? The roadways are poorly maintained, the roadside services scant (and older than dirt), and the landscape is about as boring as WJC's soporific autobiography. Arkansas is in a time warp. Even the Amish would find it too bleak for their spartan tastes. One thing is for certain: the "Bridge To The Twenty-First Century" isn't anywhere along Interstates 40 and 30 that I could tell. But do I carp unfairly? I think not.

FACT: Arkansas ranks #1 among the 50 states in the "Pothole Index" and #5 in the nation in the percent of urban highway miles in immediate or imminent need of repair.

FACT: Arkansas drivers spend 30 times more money in repairing their cars and trucks owing to the damage sustained from its crumbling highway infrastructure, than does the state in fixing its roadways.

"Arkansas" is an Indian word for "downstream people." Perhaps it's a state that was meant to be traversed by boat. With an annual average rainfall of nearly 50 inches, there's probably more water than decent asphalt anyway!