by William Moultrie
Dillon – Fresh off of his official entry into the South Carolina gubernatorial election, Lt. Governor André Bauer began his issue roll-out this week with what he is calling his “big idea” to bring our state into the 21st century.
“I’m here at the world famous South of the Border today to introduce South Carolina to an idea whose time has come,” said Bauer, addressing a handful of reporters joining him on top of Pedro’s sombrero. “I am proposing that we embark on a major road construction project to install a high-speed-vehicle (HSV) lanes on all of the interstate highways that run through our state. We have been a slow moving state for far too long and it’s time we picked up the pace.”
Borrowing a phrase from a satirical article aimed at him during his last election, Bauer has nicknamed the proposed network of highways the “Andrébahn.” In 2006, the left-leaning blog “Barbecue & Politics” published a humorous entry stating that the legislature had approved a $12 million highway for the sole use of André Bauer.
“From a PR standpoint, this is brilliant,” said Ben Tillman, political science professor at Furman University. “He’s taking one of his biggest perceived weaknesses and ‘owning’ it. If he can successfully convince people that this ‘Andrébahn’ is a good idea, then he will have completely removed that weapon from any potential opponents’ arsenal. That’s a really, really big ‘if’ though.”
According to the draft proposal Bauer distributed at the press conference, a minimum of two lanes would be added to every interstate highway in the state. Those two lanes would be policed in a similar fashion to the German autobahn in that cars would be legally required to drive to the right and only pass in the left lane. Speed limits would gradually increase as you drove away from urban areas and would be eliminated altogether in rural areas between the major cities.
“This plan is good for South Carolina for a number of reasons,” Bauer continued. “Everyone likes to drive fast, so we’ll definitely get some more folks moving here, maybe even some of those NASCAR drivers. Also, the faster you drive, the more gas you burn, and that means more money in the pockets of our small business owners operating gas stations adjacent to the highways.”
Bauer acknowledged that there would be environmental and safety concerns but that he was satisfied that the positives would far outweigh the negatives.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into this and done my homework. The stretch of I-95 that traverses our state from Georgia to North Carolina is about 200 miles and I’m told if you travel at the posted speed limit it takes about three hours to drive. If you take away that speed limit (that averages about 65 miles per hour) and imagine those tens of thousands of trucks are whipping through our state at 100 miles per hour, then that three hours becomes two hours and you’ve reduced the environmental impact on our state by one-third. Ditto for the safety concerns. The less time drivers spend in our state, the fewer problems they will cause — it’s simple math.”
“On a personal note,” Bauer continued, “I know you guys in the press have given me a lot of guff over the years about my driving record and it would be really easy to jump to some conclusion about my motives with this, but I assure you, it’s quite the opposite. I know that you know my history with speeding and you know that I know you know that. I would have to be a complete idiot to propose something like this just to be able to drive a bit faster. This is about jobs and commerce and the future of our state.”
Bauer declined to answer any further questions, stating he was expected at a similar press conference in Hardeeville in about an hour.