Tuesday, July 05, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Department to the rescue

Southbound traffic on I-440 headed toward the Arkansas River Bridge was backed up for miles early Wednesday afternoon. Traffic stopped for at least 15 minutes and then started to crawl at a snail’s pace. If you were headed for the airport trying to catch a flight, you were probably out of luck.

Or you could try calling friends at the state Highway Department and find out what was going on. Sure enough, Danny Straessle, the affable spokesman for the department, picked up the phone. He looked up on his screen and said, yep, there was major construction going on near the airport but no accidents.

He said if we made it over the bridge, which didn’t look like we would for an hour, we should get off before the airport exit, which was closed for construction and take the detour to the airport, which would delay us more.

But then a couple of state troopers cruised by on the shoulder, as if on cue from Straessle, and traffic started to move and resumed full speed ahead. It was as if Moses had parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, but more humid than Egypt.

The detour around the airport exit wasn’t much of a detour since it paralleled I-440, and travelers going to the airport should have had no trouble making their flights. We made it to our gate long before boarding.

Thank you, Danny Straessle, and all the fine state employees who make an extra effort to help stranded motorists get to their destinations. Now if the Highway Department would only complete the final leg of the North Belt Freeway….