The sorrow of driving on Storrow

Posted: August 6, 2013 in driving
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Storrow Drive from the luxury spot of not having to drive in that freak show. (photo from

Ever since moving to Boston – or actually, the northern area of the region – I’ve had the pleasure of driving up and down Storrow Drive. It’s a stretch of road which cuts through Back Bay between the lovely neighbourhoods and Charles River in a rather unfortunate urban design that deprives people of the opportunity to truly enjoy the greenery on the riverside from one of Boston’s most beautiful and affluent neighbourhoods. You’d think it was a conspiracy by the working class in Boston to make life difficult for the wealthy.

Now, I’ve found Boston and environs to be quite cantankerous when it comes to driving – see my blog post on the topic – and strangely, quite liberal when it comes to road etiquette. And on Storrow Drive, the whole idea of driving becomes a freak show. It becomes a hallucinogenic amalgamation of all the different rulebreakers on wheels.

For instance, speed. If speed kills, then Storrow Drive is a mass murderer. A serial killer. It’s a strip of road that, once convicted, is destined for death row. That is, if you don’t hit death row yourself.

Hipsters the world over will also be familiar with Storrow thanks to the late David Foster Wallace and his uber-hip novel, Infinite Jest. In the book, he refers to Storrow quite repeatedly, and even goes so far as to call it the Storrow 500.

After a few dozen times on Storrow Drive, I've learned to master the art of small corrections.

After a few dozen times on Storrow Drive, I’ve learned to master the art of small corrections.

Schumacher wouldn’t look so out of place here. In fact, he’d probably fly back to Germany after just 10 minutes on this road, it being so hair-raising of an experience. Formula One has nothing on this. After all, it’s Storrow 500, not Storrow One. Get it?

But that goes right up against my second point about Storrow Drive. Back during Expo 86 in Vancouver, one of my favourite outdoor exhibits was a long stretch of undulating pavement with bicycles, cars, and all kinds of other neat stuff half-buried in the cement, with everything painted in a neutral grey colour. We kids could walk amongst it all, exploring everything. It was kind of like those scenes from the Walking Dead.

See the road on the right? That's the ideal. See the road on the left? That's Storrow Drive during rush hour.

See the road on the right? That’s the ideal. See the road on the left? That’s Storrow Drive during rush hour.

During some unfortunate perfect storms of traffic, such as when I drove my cousin and his girlfriend to Fenway Park on July 3, the trip to Storrow Drive does look like that. I’m not shittin’ ya. There is nothing like being buried up to your steering wheel in traffic and trying your utmost to subdue the bubbling, impotent frustration within you, knowing full and well that there is nothing you can do to make things easier. Or better. Or faster. Correct that – or moving. Because you sure as shit don’t move on Storrow during rush hour, Red Sox games or the night before the July 4th fireworks.

Now, on to the third thing that you ought to know about Storrow Drive. This is something I just learned about myself this morning. Storrow Drive is, ta ta ta dum, the most dangerous bridge in America.

Yes. The Most Dangerous Bridge in America.

OK, it’s not technically a bridge. But it is. Because it sort of goes over another road for a partial stretch. And it’s dangerous, how? Well, not because of its campaign to be the new Indy 500. And not because it’s a perfect recipe for gun-toting road rage. No. It’s structurally dangerous. It rattles underneath as the cars rumble overhead. It’s not structurally sound.

And speaking of sound – it sounds like to me that if you’re of sound mind, you wouldn’t drive the freakin’ Storrow. You’d take another route. But good luck doing that in Boston.

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