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I left my office at 2:45 on Monday afternoon. I told my co-workers that I was going to run an errand. What I really was doing was playing hooky so I could drive east on Highway 40 and check out the newest wonder of St. Louis. And a lovely drive it was. Wide traffic lanes, safer entrances and exits, landscaping ready for the first warm breezes of springtime. No more wimpy green and white six inch signs designating the names of the overpass streets. No sir! Now, every overpass is a bold statement of place and neighborhood. The center of each bridge proclaims in enormous letters were we are and were we are going.
We are going to have to give serious consideration to re-wiring our St. Louis brains so that we now agree to refer to the Highway as the Jack Buck Go-crazy expressway or simply Interstate-64. It is time to retire the designation Highway 40. It was appropriate for the road built in the last century — but not for this masterpiece of design-build cooperation.
Somewhere along the New I-64 corridor there should be a slab of concrete, maybe a section of the retaining wall that bears the signature of every worker who participated in the project. No company names, just the individual men and women who made this project succeed. Congratulations to all of them for a job well done. Congratulations to all of us who were terrified at the prospect of changing our daily commuting habits, who gave one another a break in traffic now and then. It is time for all of us to move on with our lives - now the moving will be so much more pleasant.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Mark Shook is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel.