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The Anthill Madness of Veterans at Xmas December 21, 2011

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, Xmas.
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Veterans Boulevard is chaos this near to Xmas, crowded with cars moving like doodle bugs, a slow and determined crawl. A woman tries to exit a parking lot and insists on reaching the far turn lane, clenched fists furiously pounding the horn, face set like a lineman in the moments before contact. Why they position these u-turn lanes at intersections, precisely the point where a wall of cars will block the manic driver attempting to force her way across three lanes of stalled cards, is a mystery known only to the traffic engineers. Perhaps it is because the refuse to culvert and cover the canal west of Causeway, conserving their dollars to erect metal statues to give the appearance of culture. Metairie at the holidays is not culture. It is the primal panic of a crowd confronted with Godzilla. Walled in on all side by big box stores on all sides, they cannot escape.

This is the creeping edge of America pushing closer to New Orleans, every one defending their position on the road or the tax bracket, demanding everything the television promises them regardless of the danger. There is none of the patience of Orleanians creeping up Carrollton Avenue or waiting at Louisiana where St. Charles narrows to one lane. I prefer to sit and wait my turn where the clattering streetcars pass, marveling at the craftsmanship of a vehicle where every replacement part is built by hand, There is time to think, impossible when locked in a life-or-death struggle to make the Causeway entrance ramp.

So many people clamor for the convenience of big box stores in the city. When they wanted to build a Target or some other store where Bayou St. John ends at Jefferson Davis Parkway, those of us closest recoiled at the thought of all that traffic channeled down Moss Street; Bienville Street become West Esplanade Avenue, impossible to cross from the Orleans side to the Canal side as all of Lakeview speeds past on their way to shop. It would spare me occasional trips to Metairie but instead bring Metairie to my doorstep, the choice a snarl of traffic that would make Veterans like a country lane or the conversion of quiet, neighborhood streets into frantic avenues of commerce.

I foolishly ordered a turkey from Whole Foods in Metairie just across from Lakeside Mall, and will find myself on Veterans on December 23rd; worse a Friday, the day when it appears no one is Jefferson Parish goes to work but instead out to shop. I think there is no better definition of insanity, but I have made my bed and must sleep in it. Arabella wouldn’t be much better with last minute holiday dinner shoppers trying to wedge themselves into the tiny parking area.

Once committed to the Metairie option my only avenue of escape is patience as I crawl back down Veterans, the construction on Causeway Boulevard allowing perhaps one car every two or three minutes to make it to the interchange. That way madness lies. I will have to console myself that once I make it past Causeway, escape onto the 610 at West End Boulevard and make my exit at St. Bernard, I can admire the way everyone gracefully navigates the complex intersection of St. Bernard, Gentilly, Paris and DeSaix.

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1. judyb54 - December 23, 2011

hope you made out okay. I used to abhor that 5 mile stretch of traffic on I10: from Causeway to Loyola in my trips to visit my daughter in Thibodaux. Drivers in that general area are angry, aggressive and downright mean.


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