Sometimes the long way around is the best option

For the past 5 years or so my typical daily commute to the office was about 20 feet, up the stairs and to the right. A recent change in policy, however, now has me making the slog from West St. Louis County across the river (the big one, the Mississippi) to O’Fallon, IL.

Since I live close to Highway 40 – I mean, Interstate 64 – and my office in O’Fallon is right off that highway, the logical route would be to just take I-64. The only problem is that this takes me straight through downtown St. Louis city. Which usually isn’t too bad. Except, of course at rush hour. In the heart of construction season. A quick look at Google Maps with the traffic layer turned on shows what a nightmare that can be. Just look at all that red.

rushHourTrafficSTL

For the first couple of weeks I took that route. Because it was so direct, even though I could literally see the red as I was stopping and starting in the traffic, putting my defensive driving skills to the test as at least one person every day seemed to actively be trying to take me out. Luckily (for me), every day it was someone else who ended up on the side of the road, insurance company on the phone and the police writing up the report as they all waited for the tow truck.

And then it occurred to me – this is why they built I-270/255. D’uh. I hadn’t thought of it before because that route, that bypass, is a longer (miles wise) and less direct route. A quick check with Google Maps showed what I was starting to suspect. Yes, there are more miles involved, but fewer minutes. And less red.

commute

As it turns out it is only about 5 miles more driving and on an average day (like today) nearly 15 fewer minutes. And a much more pleasant drive with practically no stops, or even slow downs, due to jams. Just a bit more stop and go due to traffic lights on Manchester Road.

So before you think, “I’ll just take the direct route, I’m sure it’s the quickest and least stressful,” take a moment to check your options. Take it from me, you’ll be glad you did.

“It’s not the traffic that stresses you out, it’s your reaction to the traffic that stresses you out.”  — Scott Ginsberg

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