The City of Brotherly Love
On Wednesday I found out that I’ll be spending the week of July 2 on a special project in Philadelphia. It’s actually a voluntary thing, but by accepting this assignment I’ll be making extra money. In addition, companies usually like it when employees take on extra assignments. Of course there’s a risk that by voluntarily taking on this assignment I might get a reputation as someone on whom it’s okay to pile extra work, but I know my employer well enough by now that I don’t consider this to be a significant possibility. As part of the assignment I’ll get five nights’ accommodation and a food allowance. One interesting thing is that because the project in question is a matter of some urgency, I’ll be working on the Fourth. That’ll be a bit odd, I’ve never worked on that holiday before, but I don’t mind, given that I’ll be well-compensated for my efforts.
Going back to this week, Wednesday and Thursday were generally uneventful. Both days were extremely hot, with temperatures around 100, so I had to keep the air conditioning running in my car each afternoon. Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to extract too much of a penalty in terms of poorer gas mileage. Traffic wasn’t really any trouble either day, it helped that I was able to leave Stamford early enough to miss rush hour on Long Island. Each day took about 85 minutes in the morning and about an hour and 45 minutes in the afternoon.
Friday afternoon was a very different story. A severe storm front was scheduled come through the area in mid-afternoon and I was hoping to finish up in time to avoid it. That, alas, was not to be. When I left Stamford around 2 pm it wasn’t raining, but within a half hour it was raining very heavily. Still, I made decent time to the Throgs Neck Bridge. An electric traffic-information sign on the bridge said that “JFK via CIP [Cross Island Parkway] 38 minutes.” Normally it’s about 17 or 18 minutes, and though the Long Island Expressway exit is well before JFK Airport I figured that traffic to my exit would be troublesome. Sure enough, there was a very long line of cars at the Cross Island exit and my glimpse of traffic on the Cross Island showed it to be an elongated parking lot rather than a thoroughfare.
Undaunted, I headed south on the Clearview, only for things to go from bad to the worst imaginable. First of all, the storm became ferocious, with torrential rain cutting visibility to a dangerously short distance and with lightning crashing down nearby. I would not have been surprised by hail or even a tornado. Then, as I got closer to the Long Island Expressway exit, I was greeted by the highly unwelcome sight of an endless line of vehicles waiting to exit. It started at least a half mile before the exit ramp. So I headed a bit further, the worst of the storm having cleared, to get on the Grand Central/Northern State Parkway. As I was literally right on the entrance ramp I heard the radio traffic report say that two lanes on the eastbound Northern State were blocked at New Hyde Park Road, about five miles ahead, by a fallen tree.
It looked like regular streets would be my best option. I got off almost immediately, at Union Turnpike, and headed through eastern Queens and western Nassau County using surface streets. My route was Union Turnpike –> Marcus Avenue –> Hillside Avenue –> Herricks Road –> Searingtown Road –> I.U. Willets Road (love that name) –> Roslyn Road, finally rejoining the Northern State. Traffic on these roads moved better than I had expected, the only significant delays being some minor flooding on Marcus Avenue and a nonfunctioning traffic light (due to a localized power failure) at the intersection of I.U. Willets and Willis Avenue. The Northern State was moving well, although westbound traffic was very heavy, and when I rejoined the Expressway at the crossover in Plainview I was surprised to see that it was doing pretty well too. Even so, my return journey took over two and a half hours, though on a more pleasant note the storm front dropped temperatures by over 20 degrees in a couple of hours.