Friday, May 20, 2011
Scenery Lovers, Beware!
If you've followed my blog for a long time, you'll know of my love for Arkansas' Buffalo River country. The scenery is breathtaking, the river pristine and beautiful, and the main route through there (Arkansas Highway 7) is one of the most scenic drives in the United States as far as I am concerned.
Enter the Arkansas Highway Department. KAIT in Jonesboro, AR, reports that they're wanting to do a little digging on Route 7 between Jasper and the Buffalo River, adding passing lanes and lessening the grade for "safety reasons."
Now, hold on. Admittedly, Route 7 can get very crooked and steep. But that is part of its charm, and if one is following the normal rules of the road, should pose no problem to most drivers. If you're driving through there like a bat out of Hades, perhaps a plunge off a cliff might be a good lesson. (Okay, I really don't want that to happen, but you get what I'm saying, don't you?) The highway is the size of a normal state highway, perhaps a shade narrower, but not by much. I'm glad it's not a four-lane because too much mountain, wood and rock would have to be shaved away.
If you want to get a good look at how a zealous highway department can ruin a pretty drive, take U.S. Route 67 in Missouri between Farmington and Poplar Bluff. The Missouri Highway Department decided they wanted to speed up traffic, so they got out their bulldozers a couple of years ago and went to work. I drove through there while the work was in progress, and I was aghast. They've ruined it.
It's funny that I would write a post like this, because I am not a radical environmentalist as some define it. I'm not the extreme type that wants to kill capitalism, snuff out all development and considers snail darters on a higher plane than human beings. I believe there needs to be a proper balance, and Scripture mandates that we care for God's creation. That can be done in a way that balances human need and our surroundings. Having said that, there also comes a time for some human responsibility.
There are signs all along Route 7 that say "CROOKED AND STEEP NEXT ___ MILES. DRIVE WITH CARE." Anyone taking that drive one time would know that you don't go roaring through there at 70 miles an hour. Yes, it can be annoying when you get behind a semi that can't go more than 10 mph climbing a hill, but you'll get around them eventually. Chill out.
Thankfully, the Buffalo National River corridor itself is federally protected (at least for now). But I fear that one of the country's prettiest drives is about to get buzz-sawed unless people speak up.