A drive down I-95 is full of dozens, probably hundreds, of tiny design decisions that are ultimately about driver attention. From the lettering on a road sign to the shape of a road, engineers are constantly trying to find a sweet spot between getting a driver’s attention and distracting them.
As part of our End of the Road series we wanted to ask an expert about the thinking behind some of the things drivers see everyday on I-95 but aren’t supposed to pay much attention to.
Alyce and Neil Robertson were running late to a wedding one day 20 or 30 years ago. Because they were running late, they were arguing in the car, until some maniac on the road did something crazy.
Naturally, some of the details have slipped over the years. But the two agree they were on their way to a friend’s wedding and Alyce was mad at Neil for making them late. Here’s how they remember the rest...
Brian Rick is on a crusade. As a spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation he has chewed the ear of dozens, maybe a hundred people -- reporters, friends, anybody who refers to 95 Express as the “Lexus Lanes.”
“You don’t see a Lexus every two or three cars," Rick says. He notices the pickup trucks and work vans. "If you're delivering auto parts or you're delivering medical supplies... that's where reliability becomes essential. "
As part of our End of the Road series -- about the final 87 miles of I-95 -- we’ve asked a lot of questions: Why don’t people seem to get in trouble for speeding in the express lanes? What even is the speed limit in the express lanes? When you accidentally cut someone off, what should you do when they pull a gun on you?
They write songs about roads: "Route 66," "Highway 61 Revisited"."Dusty, old roads with iconic signage that belongs on a pair of blue jeans.
“When you talk about ... the road as an attractive proposition, usually it’s open and it’s driveable,” says composer Carlos Rafael Rivera, who teaches American creative music at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. “I-95 is a little bit of the opposite. So I can see how songs would be written in a negative way about it."
The maximum possible toll on 95 Express increased from $7 to $10.50 on March 1. Two days later at 5:30 p.m., the cost of using the northbound express lanes hit the $10.50 maximum.
Rory Santana from the Florida Department of Transportation says a truck jack-knifed and backed up the highway, so people flooded 95 Express and drove the price into the ceiling.
Since March 1 the cost of a ride in the fast lane has hit $10.50 at least 13 times. Nine of those cases occurred on the northbound express lanes, seven of which happened between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Like many born in the '50s, Interstate 95 had some pretty wild days in the 1970s.
Florida was essentially “a 600-mile bong through which pot was pulled into the lungs of the country,” writes Tony Dokoupil. And “Interstate 95 was the glass tube of the bong,” he told WLRN. “You could not get high in America without touching something that had traveled on that particular stretch of asphalt.”
Interstate 95 inspires more than just four-letter words, it turns out.
Twenty five years ago, poet A.R. Ammons and his wife were driving home from a visit with family in South Miami. Somewhere north of Dade County -- on I-95 -- Ammons looked out his window and there it was: one of South Florida’s infamous mountains of trash.
Garbage: A Poem was born.
garbage has to be the poem of our time because garbage is spiritual, believable enough
There’s a good chance you’ve seen the work of Elisabeth Hassett and an equally good chance you didn’t really notice it. Hassett is the landscape architect for the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 4, which includes Broward and Palm Beach Counties. When there’s a need for highway-side landscape design, Hassett has almost definitely had a hand in choosing the plants and the layout -- a far more complicated art than you might imagine.
I-95 according to North Carolina: 76 different designs were submitted between 1956 and 1957 during a contest that would shape the interstate's image forever. North Carolina's colorful design is pictured above.
If North Carolina had its way, the interstate system would look very different today.
Before President Dwight D. Eisenhower had even signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the American Association of State Highway Officials was discussing the need for “a distinctive interstate route marker.”
The U.S. Highway System already had the iconic shield you see along U.S. 1, AASHO decided the fledgling 40,000-mile superhighway needed its own brand.
“Lexus lanes” may have been too cheap for Miami. This past Saturday morning, South Florida drivers traded in for “Lamborghini lanes.”
The maximum possible toll on the 95 Express lanes increased from $7.00 to $10.50 — the mininum has doubled to 50 cents — in response to record numbers of motorists forking over what was thought to be a discouragingly high amount of money.
“That day you paid seven bucks, we were trying to get you not to go there,” said Rory Santana, who oversees Miami-Dade County’s stretch of 95 Express for the Florida Department of Transportation.
In 1990, when we were both 22 years old, my friend Clark and I drove from New Jersey to the Canadian border, bought a box of donuts, turned the car around, and drove the entire length of the southbound Interstate 95 non-stop, as quickly as possible. It was what we called a “high-velocity vacation."
For reasons unclear we decided to only listen to one song the entire way: Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.” We had the cassingle.