With all due respect to smoke signals, Morse code and the telegraph — well, society forges on.
According to WTAE-TV, call boxes were activated only 1,717 times last year. At an annual cost of $200,000, this comes out to roughly $117 per call.
There was a time when this infrastructure was more practical. As recently as 2000, for example, call boxes were used 18,571 times.
But that time is gone. In the era of the Bluetooth and iPhone, call boxes have become antiquated relics of the digital age. Remember telephone booths?
The turnpike is probably the last place you'd need a call box. First, cellphone service along this road is typically pretty good. And second, a person in distress shouldn't be unnoticed for long on this well-traveled highway.
If taxpayers are going to finance call boxes anywhere, why not go with some of our "roads less traveled?" After all, cell service is notoriously shaky in the Laurel Highlands — and some of our back roads are the last place a person can find passerby assistance.
Call boxes on Somerset Pike and the Garrett Shortcut? Let's take that one to Harrisburg.
(Sunday editor Bruce Siwy can be reached at email@example.com or @BruceJSiwy on Twitter.)