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I’d Prefer the Road Less Traveled
Let’s give thanks to these three major South Jersey roads for generally being the polite, clean and safe roads that they are.

by Big Daddy Graham

I love when people say something like, “There’s nothing worse in the world than a stale bagel.”

My response to that goes along the lines of, “Nothing worse, eh? How about Pearl Harbor? You think that might rank a tad above a stale bagel on the atrocity scale?”

The majority of annoyances that we let ruin our day usually aren’t worth it. Losing the remote. Breaking a shoelace. Not being able to find your keys right away. A Dallas Cowboy fan.

But if there is one thing in this world that does merit you losing your freakin’ mind over, it’s … traffic.

Whenever we come upon bumper-to-bumper traffic that makes your blood boil, someone in the car who’s not driving will inevitably say something inane like, “Oh, calm down. There’s nothing you can do about it.” Yet if that same person would happen to be the one driving at that moment you would be Googling where the closest mental asylum is. (And for heaven’s sake, why does someone always have to mention, “Could there be a worse time for this traffic than now?” Like there’s ever a good time for traffic.)

So check out this recent stint I had driving in Pennsylvania. It might ease your pain.

Tuesday Oct.9, I was making an appearance at a bar/restaurant in Bridesburg. I had to be there at 8 p.m. It’s a minute off the 95 North Bridge Street Exit. With no traffic it should take me about 40 minutes. (Let’s get this out of the way. Is there a more useless, ridiculous comment in the world than “with no traffic?”)

So because it was my first time there, I didn’t want to be late, and knowing what a mess 95 North is between Center City and Woodhaven Road, I decided to leave my Mullica Hill home at 6:30 p.m., giving myself a full 90 minutes. I’m an “early” guy to begin with. I’d rather sit in a parking lot and read a magazine or do work on my iPhone, than be freaking out because of some gaper delay.

Well, guess what? Because 95 North is a complete, under-construction nightmare, it took me the full 90 minutes to get there.

I told myself that I caught a remnant of rush hour and the journey home would be much better.

WRONG! On the way home, 95 South between Bridge and Allegheny was a one-lane parking lot and it took me an hour and 10 minutes.

Wednesday Oct. 10, I was performing an 8 p.m. comedy show with Joe Conklin at Parx Casino. But I knew for a fact I would not hit the stage before 9 p.m., so after the debacle the evening before, I decided to try to avoid even a smidge of rush hour and I left at 7: 30 p.m. Again, it took me an hour and a half each way. How do people travel this road every day?!

What’s the solution? Take the New Jersey Turnpike to the Pennsylvania Turnpike? It just might be.

Thursday Oct. 11, I was hosting the Thursday night Eagles game at P.J. Whelihan’s in Blue Bell, Pa. Now I have been up there for every Birds game for 13 years and I have this 55-minute drive down to a science. I could do it blindfolded. Hop on Route 322 to the Commodore Barry Bridge and then on to the Blue Route. But the far majority of Eagles games are played on Sunday and I don’t care if it’s a 1 p.m., 4:15 p.m. or 8:20 p.m. start, it’s still a Sunday and the ride is usually uneventful.

But it’s murder to even get on the Blue Route from I-95 any time during the week. It’s a two-lane exit that very quickly turns to one lane and when you actually enter, it goes from four lanes to two immediately and then it’s every man for himself.

But I’m aware of all this, so again, I gave myself an hour and a half and it took every minute. This was shaping up into my worst three-day traffic nightmare ever and I consider myself a lucky man because I work the traffic-free overnight shift at 94WIP.

Sunday Oct. 14, The Eagles were off so I was going to see the great singer Eddie Bruce’s big band salute to the Latin Casino, which is being held on Drexel’s campus. It was a Sunday and the show was at 3 p.m. What could go wrong? Well, first of all there was a big logjam on 76 West between the Vare and South Street exits. Then when we got off, 33rd Street (which is where we had to make a right) was closed for construction, forcing everyone to go up to 38th. It literally took a half hour to go five blocks and we ended up being late for the show. That’s five days, six horrendous trips, involving I-95, the Blue Route and the Schuylkill Expressway. The three most important roads in the Philly area.

Which is precisely why I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to three Jersey roads: Route 55, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Atlantic City Expressway.

Route 55: I realize it gets backed up at the very end where it connects with Route 42, especially during the morning rush hour. But I’ve been living in Mullica Hill now for over 25 years and you know how many traffic jams I’ve encountered, whether I’m going south to the Shore or north to the Deptford 8 movie theater? Try none. Zero. It’s an amazing road. And I’ve never been pulled over, either. I’ll admit I saw a woman in a wedding dress walking along the shoulder at 1:30 a.m. one time who I originally thought was a ghost, but let’s just forget that.

New Jersey Turnpike: When I am shooting up to Manhattan, I take 322 to Exit 2 of the turnpike and then drive north to the Lincoln Tunnel. I have made this trip a couple hundred times over the years and I have never encountered any traffic whatsoever heading north. It’s always smooth sailing. There might be problems once I get to 7A, but that’s not South Jersey.

Atlantic City Expressway: I don’t use the expressway to get to the Shore, and I know it can back up at the toll on select summer weekends, but when I have to use the expressway to go to A.C. to perform, I never encounter any problem whatsoever because it’s the off-season. And if it is the summer season, I’m shooting over from Sea Isle. (However, I have been pulled over on this road numerous times.)

So let’s give thanks to these three major South Jersey roads for generally being the polite, clean and safe roads that they are.

To read the digital edition of South Jersey Magazine, click here.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 8 (November 2018).

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