WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - It is cursed, lambasted and frequently avoided. But Interstate 95 is also loved, particularly by author Barbara Barnes. She has written a book about the highway, among the nation’s longest – stretching 1,920 miles from Maine to Florida-- that encourages readers, passengers and drivers to relish their journeys on it.
“What’s Great About I-95; Maine to Florida” provides a profusion of interesting facts about the interstate. Among them: I-95 crosses 15 states, the most of any interstate in the United States. Also, its daily traffic averages more than 72,000 vehicles (if you travel I-95 in Fairfield or Westchester Counties on any given day, that last fact might feel less surprising).
Born in Bridgeport, Conn. Barnes lived in Fairfield until she was 12 years old. She said that as a child her family would travel by car from Pennsylvania (where her family had relocated) to Los Angeles or Florida almost year, and it was during these long trips that her father taught her and her siblings “fascinating things about all the new areas we traveled through.”
“Finally, on one of those long family trips from Pittsburgh to Disney World -- on I-95, of course -- the road was so boring and I searched for a book that told about the route," she said. "I was looking for information similar to what I knew along the turnpike, but there were no books like that.”
That, she said, reinforced the idea to write her own book, which would itself make the ride more enjoyable.
To Barnes, among the most striking things about I-95 in the region is Darien's Post 53, the EMS station run by high school kids.
“Is there anywhere else in the world where they entrust such an important function to teenagers," Barnes said. "Its long running success is a testament to those kids, their families and the community.”
During road trips, said Barnes, “The time between stops can seem endless, sending passengers scrambling for their electronics, or forcing them to sit in agonizing silence.” But, she says, “What’s Great About I-95” provides travelers with trivia, history, geology, geography and current events, among other tidbits. Distractions, she added, that might make time in the car seem a little bit shorter.
Next up for Barnes is a chronicle of, and guide to, Interstate 80, which runs the 2,909 miles from Teaneck, New Jersey to San Francisco, Cal. She intends to make the trip herself.
As to I-95: having a little extra knowledge of one’s everyday commute might be beneficial. As the saying goes: “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”