US 20: Life on a major highway (1#)

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN 

Sometimes it gets quiet in downtown Fayette, but you might have to pay attention or it could take you by surprise.

Every now and then it happens. There’s not a truck in sight, neither from the east nor the west. Not a single car is making its way down Main Street. Nothing is heading toward the stoplight along Fayette Street.

Furrow the brow a little and strain your ear, turning this way and that. It’s absolutely quiet. It’s a village of 1,340 people. It sounds like a small town in rural America.

And then it’s gone. Once again it’s back to normal, back to life on a major cross-country highway.

truck-2.cropped US 20 stretches from Boston, Mass., on the Atlantic coast all across America to Newport, Ore., at the edge of the Pacific. The highway lays a path across 11 states, traveling through the Berkshires of Massachusetts, across the Finger Lakes of New York, through Cleveland and the suburbs of Chicago and on across the Mississippi.

The road passes through the fossil beds and grasslands of Nebraska, leading into the plateaus of Wyoming before jogging north to lead the way through Yellowstone and on to Idaho’s Craters of the Moon. Finally, the dry desert of Oregon appears, before climbing the Cascade Mountains and rushing down through hilly farmland to the ocean.

There’s a flow of life along this road that brings an enormous amount of traffic through every village on its path. About a third of the way west in the rich farm country of northwestern Ohio lies Fayette, and heavy traffic that seldom lets up is an everyday fact of life.

An average day brings eight vehicles a minute through the intersection of US 20 and State Route 66. During daylight hours, about 480 cars and trucks pass by every 60 minutes.

At that pace, there are 80,000 in a week, four million in a year—but wait, the flow slows at night.

Maybe there are only two vehicles a minute at 2 a.m. Perhaps the 24-hour average slips to five a minute, and the daily average shrinks to 7,200. An accurate count might show closer to 2.6 million cars, trucks and motorcycles through the course of a year.

No matter how you look at it, US 20 provides a distinct color to life for those living along its edges. It’s noisy, it’s a little dirty, and it can be fascinating to watch what passes by.

- Feb. 25, 2004 
  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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