On the way to Tuscaloosa

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

OK, I'm about to reveal something about myself that people who don't know me very well don't know. As hard as I try to be objective on all subjects, it's just impossible to be objective on one particular topic.


Yes, everyone knows I went to Troy State and I am a huge TSU fan. However, and here comes the announcement, I'm also a huge Alabama fan.

There, I've said it. The big mystery is solved.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first Alabama football game. Needless to say, I was elated and immediately seized the moment.

Having never traveled on US Hwy. 82, I wasn't sure what to expect, or even how long it would take to get there. Everybody drives differently, so one can't be to sure about the travel time.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the drive was. After I got through the traffic in Prattville, it was wide open road - through the middle of nowhere. Literally.

There was a tremendous line of traffic - all Crimson Tide fans - heading to Tuscaloosa, so I just followed the traffic (you can't go wrong with that, or can you?).

Once I got to Tuscaloosa, I figured out where I was. The only other time I had been to T-town was to visit my cousin's wife's family - and that was by taking Interstate 20/59 from Birmingham to Brookwood. So, getting around town wasn't that big a deal (Tuscaloosa's not that big of a town anyway).

After the game (I'm still depressed), I headed back down 82 home. It was an even better drive back - at least traffic wise (and I think it was all downhill).

When I got back on Interstate 65 and through Montgomery it was clear sailing at midnight.

I got home around 1:15 a.m. and that's when I realized something very important was missing from the trip. State Troopers.

Now, I'm not one to say I enjoy a trooper sitting every 2 miles down the road, but I do like to know they're out there watching the highways.

The whole trip up and the whole trip back - not a single trooper in sight.

It was the middle of the day on the trip up, so surely I thought, there must be at least two or three between Georgiana and Tuscaloosa - it's game day and they're going to be ready to write a few tickets - right?

Guess not. Not on I-65, not on US 82. Not a single trooper in sight. I did see a few at the stadium, but they were protecting the coaches.

It didn't really bother me until Monday afternoon when I was working on story related to a traffic accident.

I though to myself, "What if there had been an accident on the interstate or highway? Where were the troopers?"

And then I remembered, "Oh yeah, the Department of Public Safety is already understaffed and at night, there aren't any on the highways anyway."

That's a safety hazard if I've ever heard of one. Granted, we all tend to put the pedal to the metal if we know we aren't going to get caught, but that just adds to the danger on the roadways. Knowing that there aren't any troopers out there could prompt a few drivers to exceed that speed limit by a little more than 5 or 10 mph (and I admit, I'm guilty of that at times), which only compounds the dangers on the roadway.

With the failure of Amendment 1 and a "scaled down" state General Fund Budget, the troopers continue to face a dire situation - one that will only get worse unless something is done to allow them to offer better protection for us, the citizens of Alabama.

But I guess knowing they aren't out there will make some people happy, especially the red Chevrolet Silverado that followed me all the way home with its lights on bright and fog lights running.

Now, didn't you expect a football column?