I have probably spent more time on State Highway 123 than any other road.
Not all in giant chunks. No, that honor continues to belong to Interstate 35, otherwise known as the Highway of the Damned.
But if you added up all the quick 3-5-10 minute jaunts together, there’s little doubt that 123 has been my home away from home when I’m behind the wheel.
Since the time I arrived in Seguin for the first time way back in 1998, the highway has been my lifeline to everything else.
Before I moved out of San Marcos after college, it got me to work. When I moved to Seguin, I moved into an apartment right on 123. The Gazette is located — yep — right on 123.
When I first interviewed for a job here, the editor drove me up 123, saying that it was just a bypass for now, but that there was talk of actually building up the highway.
Which, when you think about it, makes sense. Because no highway should be stopped by this many traffic lights. And don’t worry. You. Will. Catch. Every. Single. One.
The editor pointed to the heaps of earth at every intersection, saying that’s where the overpasses are supposed to go — what we’re driving on is just the access road to the highway.
Twenty years later and we’re still driving on the access road to The Highway That May Never Be.
They’ve made some definite improvements over the years. Adding the u-turn lanes at intervals, adding lanes and marking where appropriate.
There may come a time when the Texas Department of Transportation decides that it wants to come in and actually build the highway out properly.
I don’t know where the line for that trigger is. Is it population? If Seguin cracks 35,000 or 40,000, will 123 as it exists now be sustainable? Can you imagine trying to drive the roadway as it is now with twice as many cars on it? I shudder to think.
But what happens to all those businesses that have sprouted and grown along that stretch of roadway?
What happens when the vast bulk of traffic just, well, bypasses, Seguin.
Which, in essence, is what the route was designed to do — steer people around the “other” 123 that runs as Austin Street through downtown. But in doing so, it just created another commercial corridor for the city.
And it became the corridor that me, and many other drivers, became more familiar with, comfortable with.
With that familiarity, of course, comes the understanding and appreciation of its idiosyncrasies.
Like the weird optical illusion as you approach Interstate 10 from the south. The lanes don’t go where you think they’re going. Newcomers will often end up in the wrong one — forced into a u-turn at Taco Cabana.
Or the fact that, despite it being exceptionally well-marked, that people either don’t know, or ignore the 45-mph speed limit once it passes in front of the Gazette.
People who won’t drive 30 in the city, cross that bridge like its Daytona. Officers sit comfortably outside the newspaper office making stops all day.
Protecting my highway.
Chris Lykins is the editor of the Seguin Gazette.