Rhapsody for rerouted rigs
The shortest truck bypass on record may be the 0.9 mile route connecting U.S. 441 South around Micanopy, Fla. Denizen and archivist Diane Cohen, who waged a 6-year grassroots campaign to preserve the antebellum brick buildings on the town square, persuaded the state legislature to approve the bypass, built in 1992 for $425,000. Prior to its construction, the downtown intersection was tight for rigs, which rattled buildings’ foundations. During her preservation efforts, Cohen interviewed many long-haulers about the need for the bypass. The Gainesville Sun published her poetic salute, “Micanopy Bypass: Ode to the Great Trucks,”> when the bypass was dedicated:
Rank upon rank at sunrise they gleam,
On to the interstate might rigs stream,
White splendid armour bellished and scrolled.
High crested helmets of crimson and gold.
Blue cross of battle with rebel blood gored,
Breastplates proclaiming the love of the Lord,
Eighteen wheels girded in dark swaying fringe,
Rain spattered fenders, strafing the wind.
Low slung easy riders, the Peterbilts glide,
Great diesel way-stations greet you with pride,
Trumpets of silver on visors of chrome,
Kenworth and Freightliner, thundering on.
Chains, bathed in sodium light flashing sings,
Hungry for enterprise, run with the times.
Towns bent on progress put out all their wares,
Capture your glory with banners and flares.
Bright snorting behemoth that over us towers,
See how we scatter your roadway with flowers,
Timeless, or village tranquility keep.
Slip softly past us and leave us to sleep. –Diane B. Cohen