December 24, 2013

A Bizarre Parkway Experience

I was driving toward Pittsburgh on the Parkway East a few miles from the Squirrel Hill Tunnel the other day and saw flashing lights ahead of me. As I approached them, three flatbed PennDOT trucks carrying large illuminated signboards pulled away from the shoulder and positioned themselves parallel to one another, each in one of the three traffic lanes. The signs, which are usually used to display arrows, each showed a horizontal row of yellow lights. Two police cars pulled in behind the trucks.

I was driving in the center lane and found myself directly behind the police car in my lane. I kept back a few car lengths, and the cars in the lanes to my left and right kept a bit farther back. I had been traveling 55 MPH or so but suddenly found myself is a strange procession moving at about 5 MPH. What, I thought, was going on? Traffic was backing up behind me. I have no idea how far.

We proceeded at the same slow pace. I saw no accident or construction that might provide an explanation for what was happening. About a mile down the road, all the vehicles in front of me pulled off to the shoulder, and traffic resumed its accustomed pace. On the roadway to my left, however, I could see vehicles that had likewise slowed outbound traffic to a crawl. They, too, seemed to be pulling off the road. As I resumed normal speed, although I didn’t know how many cars were backed up behind me, I could see that the outbound lanes were jam-packed.

There seemed to be no purpose to the delay I had just experienced. Was it akin to the bizarre lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that may have been some sort of political retribution?  Who knows?

1 comment:

  1. You described a traffic break, usually used to clear a hazard in the roadway or slow traffic before a large accident. They are naturally impromptu, so wouldn't likely have this specialized equipment available. Perhaps it's social engineering? Get used to driving slowly. Don't count on getting from A to B in 17.4 minutes. Perhaps it's retribution for habitual speeding. If so many of you insist on speeding, we'll slow you all down. Sounds like coercive behavior, which may or may not be justified. Ask local media. We have a local column called Road Show. Pre-planned traffic breaks are also used for things like oversize vehicles, construction equipment crossing a road, or crime events.

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