Markie's Musings

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Go Skate on a Freeway

A completely empty brand-new freeway. A clear and crisp Fall day. Ten years ago last month, I enjoyed a unique experience. Known by politicians as "the last freeway to be built in Silicon Valley", California state highway 85 was constructed at great expense through 5 communities to help the heavy commute traffic from the southern suburbs to the upper communities on the Peninsula. It was intended to take a lot of traffic from route 101 around downtown San Jose to highway 280 and beyond to route 101 in Mountain View. Parts of the new freeway had already been opened to traffic at the North and South ends. But the connection between the two ends had been built last.

In preparation for the grand opening of the new freeway, the surrounding communities of San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino all prepared "block parties" at the various interchanges. And as an added benefit, the entire new section would be closed to vehicle traffic for the last weekend before the grand opening, to allow bicycle and pedestrian traffic to enjoy the vast expanse of concrete.

As my personal salute to the prowess of Cal-Trans civil engineering, I chose to explore the freeway on my preferred mode of transportation: Roller-Blades. I had just received a new pair several months before as an anniversary present from my wife, and I was yearning for a good workout. I drove from our Blossom Valley home up to Cupertino, and parked in the lot at Taligent, where I was working at the time. Our offices were just a couple of blocks from the Stevens Creek interchange, which is where the freeway used to end before the new section was built. There were already crowds gathering in anticipation of parades and barbecues along the route, and some folks were walking and others cycling down onto the roadway. I joined them and headed South. I had thought to bring along a camera, but managed to capture only a few shots.

Along the way, I had a chance to take in the sweeping curves and marvel at the scenery along the way. Much of the freeway snakes through mixed residential and commercial areas, but there are spots of wooded acreage that remain unspoiled and serene.


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