Where are you going so fast?

When you drive the Turnpike almost daily, and watch mile after mile of absolutely nothing except road and cars and trucks, it's hard to believe that this is one of the most urban states in the nation and more densely populated than the nation as a whole.

And, we are densely populated, with 6,074,000 residents living on 7,935 square miles of land. That's 765 residents per square mile versus 74 percent square mile nationally.

But wait...cars and trucks, that's all I see. How many are there? Where are all these people going? And how long will it take them to get there? How many cars are parked in your garage or driveway? And how far do you drive each year?

Did you know that Massachusetts had the first subway in the Western Hemisphere? (The MBTA has been around for more than 100 years.) And that the Commonwealth has been providing transportation to its citizens at least since 1635, when it established the first water ferry in the colonies?

Well the state's Executive Office of Transportation and Construction has taken a look at where we're going and how we get there, and put it all together in a neat little booklet, Massachusetts Transportation Facts.

Looking at just some of the statistics, you'll learn that there are 4,355,000 licensed drivers in Massachusetts. Together, we drive some 45.5-billion miles a year in our 4,793,000 registered vehicles. (A quarter of them are trucks, like pickups, vans and utility vehicles. for personal use.)

With each registered vehicle consuming an average of 595 gallons of fuel, we burn a total of 2.85-billion gallons of gasoline a year. Each of us drives 11,471 miles a year on average, although I think I must be driving some of your share.

With the average travel time to work, no matter how you go--vanpool, ferry, rail, bus, subway, walk, bike or drive--set at 20.7 minutes, I know I'm driving some of your share of the time, too! Figuring on four hours per round trip, home to the State House and back, I think I spent roughly 22 24 hour days in the car last year, just on that segment of my travels.

Despite all our travels, by the way, we have one of the lowest fatality rates among the states based on either licensed drivers or registered vehicles. Our rate is half the national rate.

It's not easy to walk to work when your city, like Westfield, is 47 square miles. But, in cities like Amherst, Provincetown and Cambridge almost 25 percent of commuters walk to work. And, as you learn when you spend any time in Boston, it's easiest to walk around--48 percent of all trips made within downtown Boston are walking trips.

Especially now that the "Big Dig," or Central Artery project is in progress. It's the old "you can't get there from here" story, with traffic diverted so that the state can replace the antiquated six lane, elevated highway I-93 through downtown Boston with a new 8 to 10 land road, mostly underground. (You can find out more at www.bigdig.com.)

You've seen the new Mass Highway signs for Project Clean? Well, you can call toll free 888/359-9595, or #321 on your cellphone, to report highway locations or rest areas that need attention. The state wants to be sure their roadways and facilities are clean and user-friendly.

Massachusetts also has a rail, bicycle, subway (there's a new silver line coming to join red, green, blue and green lines), ferry, carpool, airport and bridge facilities under its control. To learn more, you can get your own copy of Massachusetts Transportation Facts from the Executive Office of Transportation and Construction at 617/973-7000 or www.eotc.org.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014