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.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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