I do not like to be late.
It stresses me out to be late, makes me irritable, and usually means I have a hard time enjoying the moment. In fact, my desire to not be late impacts nearly every decision I make - from determining what time I need to get up in the morning to which chores I need to do before bed. I plan my daily route to avoid being late - and it helps make my life more balanced.
But in spite of all that planning, last week I was the latest I have ever been to an event. It was a special event - the retirement party for a dear friend and former colleague.
I had planned everything including the best time to leave Louisville during rush hour to get to Northern Kentucky. I had looked at WAZE, google maps, and even the local traffic news to make sure I left in plenty of time.
But in spite of all that planning, nothing could change the fact that it was rush hour on one of the busiest sections of the interstate in the Louisville region.
Traffic was crazy. The expressway was bumper to bumper and went from a crawl to a stop. As soon as I stopped, Google Maps started reporting delays of more than 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes. I was stuck and I was frustrated.
And I wasn't alone. In fact, according to KIPDA more than 15,500 people drive into Louisville from Oldham County each morning - and most of them probably use the I-71 corridor. That means, during evening rush hour those 15,500 people all need to get home via the same corridor. That number doesn't include people like me who use the corridor to travel to other locations north of Oldham County.
Last Thursday, I was stuck with all those frustrated, delayed people trying to get where they needed to go. Most likely, they were all going to be late like me - that means late to pick up their kids from daycare, late to dance practice, late to football practice, late to dinner with their wife, late to an evening round of golf, or too late to be able to relax with family and friends - or to be on time for an event that won't be celebrated again.
That's more than 15,500 people missing out on something they wanted or needed to do - because they were stuck in traffic. We lost time and lost the opportunity.
And we aren't alone. In fact, the Texas Transportation Institute estimates that the average urban commuter wastes 42 hours a year stuck in traffic.
42 hours is A LOT of time to lose.
That is 42 hours that you didn't spend with your family or friends. 42 hours that you didn't spend learning something new. 42 hours that you weren't working and getting compensated. 42 hours of your time that was probably spent stressed out and frustrated.
That time was lost being stuck in traffic - stuck because our roads are jammed and need to be widened or enhanced so we can get where we need to go when we need to be there. And we can't make the all the improvements we need because we don't have the money to pay for them.
Last Thursday, I missed most of the festivities at my friend's retirement party. I would have paid extra to have gotten to that retirement party on time. And, as I sat there with more than 15,500 people stuck in traffic - I bet they would have paid extra to be somewhere else too.
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