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Across the Wide Missouri
Bil Gilbert
June 28, 1976
Moseying through Missouri and Kansas on Route 40, the author sees a man about his dogs, learns about the tasty spoonbill and stunt flying, and proposes a new Slow-Way
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June 28, 1976

Across The Wide Missouri

Moseying through Missouri and Kansas on Route 40, the author sees a man about his dogs, learns about the tasty spoonbill and stunt flying, and proposes a new Slow-Way

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It should not be difficult, complex or expensive to establish such a Slow-Way. With the exception of a few minor breaks, which could be bridged by rerouting, The Road now exists. No massive construction or capital investment would be required. The chief and critical innovation would be a regulatory one having to do with speed. One might travel by any means on the Slow-Way so long as the rate was not in excess of, say, 20 miles an hour. In certain sections this restriction might work a hardship on local residents and commercial enterprises. Where this was the case the limit could be raised. But for the most part, the Slow-Way route is paralleled by interstates which would, as they do now, best serve those who need to travel 55 miles in each hour. In the 800 miles between Baltimore and a place like Vandalia, Ill. there are very few miles of the old route where a 20-mph limit would adversely affect the general welfare.

Conversely, there would be many practical benefits to a Slow-Way. The cost of highway maintenance would be lower. Residents living along the highway who work, go to school, drive tractors and keep pets and stock would find the road safer, quieter, cleaner and generally more attractive. A Slow-Way might well revitalize businesses that began to fail once interstates bypassed them. Small-town hotels could be spruced up and made commercially viable by catering to slow-goers. Hostels, campgrounds, restaurants, tap rooms and groceries should flourish. Gas stations would probably do less well but they are not doing very well as it is. To compensate, cycle shops, hikers' outfitting stores, even an occasional livery stable or blacksmith, might find new opportunity along The Road.

The proposal is this. Without a lot of fuss and expense we could have ourselves a very interesting old-new thing, a kind of Peoples' Highway. It would be a memorial to people past who have gone that way, a pleasure way for present people, and a kind of time-space link between the two.

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