Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merritt Badge

Work took me way out of the valley on Wednesday, down near the coast of Connecticut, in Strattford. On the way there, I got off of I-91 in North Haven, and got on Rte. 15 south.

The northern end of Rte. 15 is know as the Wilbur Cross Parkway. It parallels I-95 heading into New York. The stretch from Strattford to the New York line is known by the highway's more popular name, the Merritt Parkway. Pretty much everyone calls the whole stretch of highway the Merritt Parkway, (sorry Wilbur).

The parkway was built in the late 1930's, partially to relieve congestion on U.S. Rte. 1. It now also serves as an alternative to the I-95. The parkway has a couple of unique attributes that are hard to find nowadays.

One of those unique attributes, are the beautiful stone and concrete bridges that cross overhead. All are artistic in some way, and no two are alike.

They aren't overly elaborate, but still. They are nice, and no two are the same. A small detail, but sooo lacking in the average cookie-cutter construction project of today.

Something else you don't see everyday; there are full grown, hardwood trees on the median strip.

The dead of winter doesn't do the scene much justice. You'll have to imagine how beautiful it is with the trees in full greenery.

Unfortunately the trees are slowly being phased out. They have been deemed dangerous, as they have been involved in several accidents over recent years.

As far as the construction of the road however, it's not an expensive or elaborate bit of engineering. But so little, does so much to beautify the scenery, and make the ride enjoyable. That's tax dollars (and toll dollars) at work. Even the road signs are unique, with saw toothed green edges against white backgrounds.
Approaching New Haven, you reach the piece de resistance on this northern section of the road; the Heroes Tunnel.

Cut through the same basalt ridge that makes it's way into the Pioneer Valley, it features low pressure sodium lighting. Those yellow, color blanking lights that are also getting harder to find. The tunnel is small, but just another neat little feature of this great road. Nowadays they'd probably just blast a corridor through the hill, and be done with it.

Save a few bucks here, blow a few bucks there...

From what I hear, the road gets even nicer on it's southern section to the NY line. Kudos to the engineers who constructed this road; They had foresight, and the understanding that the journey can be as important as the destination.

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