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At the risk of stating the obvious, there is much, much, MUCH more open space here in Arizona than there is in our beloved Liguria, or in Italy as a whole, for that matter.  One of the luxuries all this space provides is the continued ability of the State to build huge new highways.  We are as great fans of the Italian Autostrada system as anyone else (and especially fans of the highway rest stops, the Autogrills particularly – yum!).  But if you find an autostrada with more than four lanes in one direction you have found a rarity.  Two lanes in each direction, sometimes with no emergency lane, are common in Italy (as they were on the dreadful old Pennsylvania Turnpike near Philly).

The Loop 202 was recently completed around Phoenix, making it a much shorter trip to get from our part of the Valley to Phoenix or to Sky Harbor Airport on the east side of the city.  For whatever reason extra care was taken to make the bridge abutments and the gravel banks on the sides of the highway beautiful.  The themes are, unsurprisingly, southwestern, and are all different.  It makes the drive much more interesting and fun, as do the lovely shrubs and trees that have been planted on some of the banks.

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But for all the space given to the new road, it is still choked with rush-hour traffic before 9 a.m. and between 3 and 7 p.m.  It’s hard to imagine where all the traffic went before this road was opened.  Driving around Phoenix at rush hour is about like trying to drive around Venice at any time.

And no matter what you may have heard about driving and drivers in Italy, both are a whole lot worse here.  The captain opines that the most dangerous instrument in the world is a woman in an SUV talking on her cell phone.  While I don’t necessarily agree with him (harumph!), I do think that drivers here exhibit an aggressiveness and a carelessness that is, well, not Italian.

Good or bad, the drivers here have a beautiful new highway. If you’d like to see some more photographs of the Loop’s bridge art, click on ‘bridge art’ under photographs over on the right, or click right here.  As usual, a slide show is recommended.