Construction criticism (or where have all the detours gone?)

road under construction blur
This sign is one of the most logical choices for a construction site. The least needed sign was the one I (slowly) passed that said “Speed fines doubled in construction zones when workers present.” Really? Who could speed?

Constructive criticism is the art of offering feedback on work performance to help a person improve. Construction, specifically road construction, is an effort to improve the roads. Construction criticism is the art of questioning the timing and method of road construction with the seeming goal of making my route to work so ridiculous that any change — even merely stopping construction — elicits happiness.

It seems to me that my city must have purchased “construction” in bulk this year. By my accounting, every route to my workplace is littered with orange cones, big yellow trucks and their back-up beeps, large digital signs declaring “CONSTRUCTION AHEAD” and “EXPECT DELAYS” and “TEMP LANE CLOSURE,” and lanes in various states of disrepair and repair. Oh, and cars, lots of them, because I am not the only one heading to work or taking children to school at this hour.

One day last week, it took me 15 minutes to get through one intersection as construction put the 20 mph school zone at a complete standstill. A school bus directly in front of me kept me blinded to what was happening ahead. Road workers chose to close two of the three lanes traveling eastbound. This included the left turn lane, which meant that anyone trying to turn left across a full-stream of westbound traffic had to wait for a small eternity — along with everyone in line behind them.  (That would be me.)

On the upside, the 20 mph school zone seemed like flying once that bus in front of me turned left.

Whatever happened to detours?

It seems to me that construction workers might appreciate being able to work on a section of road while traffic was diverted elsewhere. That would likely mean faster completion times and much less hassle and coordination of cones and flagmen.

I try to self-detour when I can, but when three major arteries leading to work are under construction, that effort is handcuffed. I can shorten my time at the health club to try to beat through a section of road before the workers and trucks arrive …  which begs the question, why does the city complete construction when everyone is awake and driving? It’s Florida, it’s hot, and the roads are crowded. What could be more romantic (maybe roadmantic?) than working the roads on a starry, cool November night in this otherwise tepid state? Especially if traffic is detoured elsewhere.

When I was growing up, detours were commonplace. Annoying at times, yes. Not well marked, causing us to get lost at times, yes. But I prefer to be moving to standing in a vehicle. Detours allow you to see neighborhoods and areas of town you might never encounter — plus you avoid the frustration of sitting in traffic as the clock ticks faster and faster.

I remember a movie made in Sarasota when I was a teenager — and the detour was the theme. At that time, the interstate was being constructed through my hometown, and the movie made use of the setting. “Honky Tonk Freeway” (1981) was set in the small town of Ticlaw, Florida, where the only attraction was a safari park. As it was building the freeway, the Department of Transportation decided against putting an exit for the small town, instead creating an overpass near the center of the town. Would-be tourists and their money sped past overhead, and Ticlaw suffered. Well, the town residents took matters into their own hands, destroying the overpass so that a detour into the tiny town was necessary. A town’s success was born.

But I digress. My main aim for detours as road construction progresses is twofold: joy for me and for the workers. I liken having traffic continue during road construction to me pulling a roasted 22-pound turkey from my oven as every family member squeezed past me and the open oven door.

That would be an accident waiting to happen, resulting in an angry cook, a demolished turkey, and a burnt passerby or two. Not to mention a ruined Thanksgiving meal.

So my constructive criticism for those organizing this widespread epidemic of road construction is this. Put out some “detour” signs, let the flagmen or women sleep, enjoy the cool of the night as you complete the roads much more quickly. And avoid the construction criticism.

Fellow drivers, are you with me? (I know you were this morning…)

NaBloPoMo_1115_465x287_THEME

Posts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

  1. Why I love my hairstylist…
  2. To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo? That is the question…
  3. No AC November…
  4. That dubious gift of an hour…
  5. I can’t wait to be discovered…
  6. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…
  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…
  8. When you replace people with possessions…
  9. Do what you know is right…
  10. When your eyes are bigger than your weekend…
  11. Attempting “The Glad Game”…
  12. When the Christian life is a bit too much like a political debate…
  13. Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…
  14. How our Mitsubishi van became blue…
  15. If she only knew…
  16. When everything feels like straw…
  17. Construction criticism (or where have all the detours gone?)…

 

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