Finally, and perhaps most seriously, I-95 is threatened by cars and trucks. Every day, many people drive cars and trucks on I-95, a use to which any fool can see it was never intended to be put.
Most of us cannot imagine what life in Miami would be like without I-95. I mean, it has always been there, except of course for the time before it was built; it is as much a part of the South Florida landscape as the beaches, and the palm trees, and the sun-dappled waters, and the Dadeland Mall. It soars over the city, seeming almost to float in the air, supported only by concrete posts the size of grain silos. Beneath its vast form, protected from the sun and the rain, are areas where people from all walks of life gather together to park their cars or commit minor felonies.
And yet all of this, as I said, is threatened.
In an effort to determine what can be done about this, I talked to Dr. Jack Parker, who is director of the Environmental Studies Program at Florida International University, at least until this article is published. Here is what he said:
"One way to reduce the traffic damage to I-95 would be to make the exit ramps very high, so that the cars would actually shoot off into space, say 80 feet up. This would not only cut your maintenance costs, but it would enhance the completeness of the I-95 experience. It would make driving on I-95 a once-in- a- lifetime thrill. Perhaps the exit ramps could be located over Alice Wainwright Park, so the cars would go off into the bay, where they would form a reef, which would attract lobsters."
I swear that is what Dr. Parker said, and furthermore, here is an actual statement from U.S. Rep. Dante Fascell:
"This is an extremely critical situation which demands immediate action. I plan to introduce legislation calling on a special commission to conduct a study of the problem."
OK, you say. So I-95 is threatened. So what? Why should I care? What makes I-95 so special? To understand the answers to these questions, you need some historical background.
Basically, I-95 was the idea of Dwight Eisenhower. This is the same person who came up with the concept of Vice President Nixon.
As Eisenhower conceived of it back in the '50s, the interstate highway system was going to be mainly for National Defense. The idea was that in the event of a serious war, all these war-related objects and personnel could be whizzed around the nation on this vast network of high-speed roads with utmost efficiency. This would go on for approximately 35 minutes, after which your various incoming missiles would of course have destroyed all traces of the interstate system except the growths in the men's room at the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Nevertheless, Eisenhower's idea was immediately hailed as a stroke of genius by a broad-based, across-the-board coalition of persons connected with the concrete industry, and before long, construction of the interstate system was under way. Today it is very nearly complete, although if you look on a map you'll notice there's a gap in it just above Palm Beach. There's a very practical reason for this gap, namely that the prevailing opinion of your powerful political interests in Northern Florida has long been that what South Florida really needs in the way of public works is a good tidal wave. This is why Miami, a world- famous sophisticated cosmopolitan urban center, has yet to be fully connected, whereas in Northern Florida there are a number of spacious modern complete interstate highways whisking people directly to all these dirtbag rural towns where the highest form of cultural achievement is remembering to roll down the car window before you spit.