A brief one here this tumultuous Monday — keep tuned to your CB radio and traffic apps and states’ 511 traveler-information services approaching major cities near nightfall until protests and opportunistic agitators at their margins quiet down, my own home city of Nashville no exception in this case.
Bottom line: If you can steer well clear of any on-foot crowd’s venture into a major interstate, take every opportunity you have to do so.
Recall our own Twitter list that aggregates a lot of the state and local 511 info accounts in one big list, embedded below. Included in that feed yesterday was the notice of the closure of I-35W in Minneapolis where one Kenan Advantage tank hauler found himself trying to navigate a sea of humanity in the roadway, as we reported at this link.
— Minnesota Department of Transportation (@MnDOT) May 31, 2020
Note the tweet above announcing the three-hour change of timing of the local closures occurred just more than 20 minutes before the start of the closures, and contrary to multiple deceptively suggestive clickbait-y headlines from all manner of outlets, all indications are the tanker owner-op was on this scene purely by accident.
About those clickbait-y headlines, I immediately called up this piece from just before Trump’s inauguration, which described the full-on then-blossoming of the “Fake News” phenomenon and its taking advantage of the hopes and fears of a variety of political persuasions. What I wrote at the time about what so many of these stories do applies equally well to intentional mischaracterizations in exaggerated headlines, of course. (Key thing for the conscientious reader: get past the headline to the meat of the story and often enough you’ll see clearly the gross exaggeration.)
There’s a definite fear- and bias-validation going on in the attraction of fake news. It’s no secret the blocking of highways has been happening with greater and greater frequency by protestors of a variety of stripes the last several years — the debacle in Charlotte, following the police shooting of Keith Lamon Scott, on I-85 15 minutes north of the town in S.C. where I grew up, comes to mind. In the wake of that, there’s been no shortage of real and justifiable worry over what many considered inevitable: the potential for an eventual accident, or something worse, where lives were lost.
Could the I-35W Minneapolis incident and others this weekend have been avoided? Absolutely, yes, in all manner of different ways and after all else failed with access to timely information delivered by quick-thinking pols, news outlets and/or citizens themselves — though 20 minutes’ advance notice of an Interstate closure is asking a little much of even today’s high-speed info networks.
As noted before, keep the old-school CB fired up, but of course.
This list has active info resources in every continental U.S. state and from many local areas, too:
Another unexpected gem of KW near Cheyenne, Wyo.
Avid and semi-pro photographer (and hazmat tank hauler himself) Don Christner of Cheyenne, Wyoming, regular readers will recall for his many guest dispatches here on Overdrive, in particular his 2018 series from the boneyard of a former small fleet based in his area, whose trucks’ stories he memorably told through the camera lens.
Two weeks back, he sent in another beauty taken from the road:
Though he’s been working fairly steadily through the COVID-19 pandemic, he says (business slowed a bit out of his home terminal, he says, but with some of the company’s drivers’ absences, most who remained were able to stay plenty busy), one Sunday night in the depths of the shutdowns around the nation, with church services called off, “My wife and I took the camera and started looking for something to take pictures of. Wyoming was not locked down very tight.”
The Christners came upon “this truck setting in a field, no one around.” He took this shot right from the roadside. “That’s an unedited, no Photoshop, as-shot photo,” he adds. “I got in a new Kenworth truck a week before the shutdown. It has 25,000-plus miles on it now. I’ve run the wheels off. So I’ve had continued income, and I’m very thankful.”