Every time I pull up in front of my house, I feel the need to apologize to my car.
After all, St. Louis is a nasty place to raise a car in. The potholes are endless, and pop up all around the calendar year. Metal plates are thrown over unfinished projects, which hit your tires like sleeping spears right when you least expect it. Right as the song on the radio hits the highest note, you run over six metal plates in succession, and suddenly feel the Michael Douglas “Falling Down” urge to lose your cool. The tires are CGI soldiers on a movie screen, taking the brunt of the punishment while the star of the show, the driver, sits comfortably above. I feel every bump in my 2017 Hyundai Elantra. Every single one. So, an apology is in order.
St. Louis isn’t alone in being a town with bad roads. North Little Rock, Arkansas didn’t even bother to plow their roads when it snowed or dropped ice. If you had to work, it would be Mad Max on Ice. Driving through Havana, Cuba felt like a grown-up round of bumper cars, with horns speaking louder than full stops. Getting anywhere in Los Angeles means adding 45 minutes to your trip. A two-and-a-half mile journey to a gas station requires a stress ball and life coach. The Lou is like any other, but certain places are crazier than others. Here are my five spots, followed by a brief explanation.
Kingshighway Boulevard north of Pernod Avenue
If you are traveling in the far right lane, the lane cuts so hard left that I figured my vehicle would just fly into the nearby parking lot. Following that Daytona curve, the various bumps and potholes, hugging several thousand feet of cracked pavement in between, are ruthless. I remember just going berserk for four minutes while blazing through green lights. Just say no, if you can, to this part of a street that links directly to my birth and childhood.
I-55 north into Illinois
This is Fury Road. It may not technically be St. Louis, but since you are coming over the bridge from downtown shortly before reaching this hell strip, I think it fits the bill. Here’s how it goes down for the ones still judging its relevance to this story. You exit the Poplar, and are presented with sixteen options that take you to a total of two destinations. All of these place you on a path to Chicago, which wouldn’t be too bad if the first 2-3 miles didn’t shove you into a state of angered disillusionment. It’s not just holes, cracked roads, or a piece of concrete missing all-together; I’d say it’s all three and worse. The lanes whip left and right, and every other driver thinks the speed LIMIT is merely a jumping-off point.
I-70 west out of the city
It’s the previous one, but for many more miles. Here, it has everything to do with speed and not really the roads. This is a Nascar-style race for most cars, and that’s not even including the two express lanes. People suddenly think now that the monstrous horseshoe is behind us, we can tackle life a quarter-of-a-mile-at-a-time in less than three seconds. It’s absolute madness. Take I-64 or any other highway instead. This should be considered the “low” way.
Any four-way stop in the city
Jameson and Fyler. Anywhere along Jameson really. It could easily be described as four cars clinching their precious assholes and seeing who farts first. Two cars move a couple inches forward, while the other two check their phones and glance ahead. Eventually, three vehicles are in the intersection, and that’s not including the two runners and families coming home from school. It’s the quick draw express. This is where I remind the masses that one direction goes, and the other follows. But life is so hard and there are no remedies for bad drivers. This is a national story by the way.
The Trader Joe’s parking lot in Brentwood Promenade
People have cried. People have screamed. People have lost their minds. Inglorious lists were made. Two bags of kale chips and that organic sea scallops with pickled jalapenos won’t protect a Richmond Heights mother of two from using that hair tie like Lorraine Broughton on a cart pusher who isn’t paying attention. The lanes are tighter than Ivanhoe during carpool, and the spots aren’t designed for cars larger than a sedan. If you need those special snacks, I would park far away and walk. Enjoy the breeze and your kempt sanity.
What are your worst driving spots in St. Louis? Tell me in the comment section below.