In search of the road less traveled

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The average American spends more time driving to and from work than on vacation each year.

The more you drive, the fatter you may become.

And the price of gas today is about 40 percent higher than a year ago.

Ready to get where you need to go as quickly as you (legally) can?

The Southeast Missourian chose five destinations in Cape Girardeau and Jackson and tested different routes to see which ones can get you there the fastest and even save you money in gas.

Cape Girardeau Police Department Patrolman Jason Seltzer also offered his advice on traveling effectively and safely.

Basically, said Seltzer, there are no guarantees.

"Where you are leaving from and your destination, the time of day, and the people who are driving in front of you are all factors," he said.

Seltzer recommends taking roads that have multiple lane, such as Highway 74.

"Personally I always take routes that have traffic signals because trying to pull out into traffic without a light, especially if your making a left turn, can not only be dangerous but can take a long time," said Seltzer.

In total, these alternative routes could shave as much as 9 minutes driving time off your day.

Destination: Wal-Mart in Cape Girardeau from downtown.

Routes: William Street vs. Bloomfield Road/Siemers Drive vs. Independence Street/Mount Auburn Road.

Results: These routes were tested around 2 p.m. on a Wednesday. The first route, which traveled from Lorimier in downtown to Wal-Mart via William, took 7 minutes, 59 seconds and 3.8 miles. The second route, which followed William to Kingshighway to Bloomfield to Siemers, took 11 minutes, 13 seconds and was 4.8 miles long. The third route, which traveled down Independence and then along Mount Auburn to William, was 4.0 miles and took 10 minutes, 17 seconds.

The winner: William Street, with the potential to knock 3 minutes, 14 seconds off and 1 mile off your drive.

Destination: Hope Street/East Jackson Boulevard intersection in Jackson from Wal-Mart in Cape Girardeau.

Routes: Highway 25 vs. Interstate 55.

Results: These routes were tested around 2:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. The first route, via Highway 25, took 10 minutes, 55 seconds and was 9.1 miles long. The second route, from Wal-Mart to Jackson via the interstate, was a shorter distance -- 7.9 miles -- but took longer at 12 minutes, 22 seconds.

The winner: Highway 25, though a longer distance, this route took 1 minute, 27 seconds less

Destination: Cape Girardeau County Courthouse at Washington and Barton Street from the intersection of East Jackson .Boulevard and Shawnee.

Routes: Shawnee Avenue/East Main Street vs. Highway 61/Hope Street.

Results: From the stoplight at Shawnee, it is 1.3 miles and 4 minutes, 33 seconds to the Jackson Courthouse via Highway 61. Taking Shawnee to East Main and then turning right on Highway 61 to reach the courthouse was 1.5 miles and took 3 minutes, 36 seconds to drive.

The Winner: Shawnee /East Main. Though a longer distance, this route could save you 57 seconds driving time.

Destination: Downtown Cape Girardeau from Jackson.

Routes: Interstate 55/Highway 74 vs. Kingshighway/Lexington Avenue/Sprigg Street/Broadway.

Results: The first route traveled Jackson Boulevard to Interstate 55, exiting at Highway 74 and then taking Fountain St. to Morgan Oak to Lorimier. The trip took 19:54 and was 13.1 miles long. The second route followed Kingshighway south to Lexington to Sprigg St. to Broadway, stopping at Lorimier. That route was 20 minutes, 53 seconds and 12.1 miles long.

The Winner: Interstate 55, which took 59 seconds less

Destination: Central High School from downtown.

Routes: Sprigg/Southern Expressway vs. Independence/Kingshighway.

Results: The first route traveled down Independence to Sprigg and then out to Southern Expressway, taking 7 minutes, 6 seconds and 3.6 miles. The second route took Independence to Kingshighway to Mount Auburn and was 3.9 miles and 9 minutes, 40 seconds long.

The Winner: Sprigg St./Southern Expressway, which was 2 minutes, 34 seconds faster and .3 miles shorter.

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