It’s time for the community to have a frank conversation with itself. We’ve put this off far too long. We have simply got to face up to realities, and banish what has become familiar, traditional and convenient.
The so-called “Traffic T” is a moniker that no longer has relevance. It is outdated, inaccurate and may even be the source of regional ridicule.
I can hear the guffaws from truck drivers all the way to Mingus. “Did you say ‘Traffic T’? Then why does it have four streets, instead of three? Har, har, har!”
Why, indeed. The time has come to think up a new name.
Now, I have heard discussion about this situation in social circles, and someone advanced the argument that the intersection is not a “capital T,” but rather a “lowercase t.” That letter actually has four legs.
I don’t buy it. A T-bone steak has a definite “capital T.” If one car hits another in the side, it got “T-boned.” We consider the term “T” to mean three points.
After so many businesses around the so-called “T” have opened, and after all the work the Texas Department of Transportation has funded to make the intersection wider and safer, I don’t think closing one of the streets involved is an option. In other words, we can’t bet that highway engineers will redesign this crossroads to match our preferred description of it.
There was a time long ago when we could get away with calling it the “Traffic T” — when Clements Street looked like an alley to the back door of a single business. That’s pretty much what it was, if memory serves, when the property was the site of Gibson’s. Of course, back then, the “Traffic T” was the “Traffic Circle.” But that was, what, two decades ago?
So newcomers can perhaps understand how an intersection once known as the “Traffic Circle” evolved into the “Traffic T” after the circular routes were erased and replaced with a 90-degree intersection complete with traffic signals, instead of those scarcely-heeded yield signs. Clements was there even then, of course, as it always had been, but its role in the overall scheme of things was minor.
That’s not the case any more. After the Market Place commercial development began taking off, Clements Street became an important thoroughfare, with national businesses claiming it as the address for their modern facilities. Clements Street now is your pathway to some of the newest firms and residential areas in the city. So it’s time to give Clements Street its due, and we can do that by embracing it as a full-fledged, dues-paying member of the “T.” Or, a member of whatever it is we’re going to call it in the future.
Exactly what to call it, though, is indeed a dilemma. If there was a better term, one that’s more appropriate to its current configuration, someone would have already proposed it and thousands of Brown County area residents would have embraced it. It’s just like life was like before Oreo cookie crumbs were dumped into vanilla ice cream and heating elements were installed inside leather car seats. We’re all just waiting for somebody to come up with the idea.
Don’t look my way, though. I don’t have anything. And it has nothing to do with the national writer’s strike. My role here is just to point out that the problem exists.
I broached the subject of the so-called “Traffic T” with Brownwood district TxDOT public information officer Sandra Parker, with whom I’ve talked to frequently as construction continues along Commerce Street and around the intersection at issue. Sandra can hardly utter the popular term for it without adding some sort of disclaimer. Sometimes she says, “even though it’s not really a T,” or “what people call the T.”
At least once, she said it with a sigh, as if to think, “What’s the use fighting this battle?”
Perhaps that’s a good point. But welcome to the headquarters for lost causes. We’ve chosen to press forward. A new name is needed here, and if you decide to join the crusade, fame and more fame (but probably not fortune) await you if are creative enough. All you have to do is name that crossroads.
Whoever does it, getting credit is not important. It must be done. A more accurate name for this busy crossroads must be found. Who will step up?
Gene Deason is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.