Paving the road to progress
Here’s to all the road crews out there.
They have to go like the dickens before winter, put up with frustrated, confused and angry drivers, a lot of noise, and unscheduled days off — depending on which way that extreme weather goes.
Without them, we would get nowhere.
Somewhere in my 3,000 km of road travel over the past month, I saw one really good road construction sign. It was an “outside the box” moment.
The sign announced that on such and such a date, night road construction would be taking place.
Someone figured out that road construction can actually be done at night. Good idea.
To be honest, I didn’t pay that much attention to the details. What did it matter. Like probably 80 per cent of the rest of the driving public, I would not be on the road at the time.
My holiday travels took me to the West Coast and back, and then around Alberta. Driving after dark was not on the agenda.
So what about night construction?
Traffic is vastly down. Congestion ceases to exist. There is no rush hour. Night is when those poor, hot, overdressed daytime road crews could get relief from sun, hot oil and drivers. Obviously, road crew worker safety is paramount. But with good lighting and proper reflective clothing, maybe it’s feasible.
Summer travellers only find their driving nirvana when they turn the engine off at their destination. At night, thousands of summer holidayers are off the roads — far from the maddening road rage, driver versus navigator evil glares, and road construction.
From the time we left Red Deer until we returned home from holidays, there was road construction throughout Alberta and B.C.
One of the most spectacular sights I saw was on the outskirts of Vancouver. The new Port Mann Bridge across the Fraser River is incredible. I had no idea. There’s nothing I can compare it with in Alberta — not even the 32nd Street and 40th Avenue project.
The giant and beautiful $2.46-billion project may not seem quite so marvelous when the toll kicks in.
Back home, talk about distracted driving.
If you’ve driven down 32nd Street in Red Deer recently, you understand. You have temporary pedestrian signs, orange cones everywhere, two-way signs in former one-way lanes, flashing electronics signs that are unreadable when the sun hits them, heavy machinery, traffic lights and so on.
It’s all good, though. I love road construction because it means better and safer transportation.
We have to have roads. The people who actually build them and the other structures that make them work — bridges, animal passes in the parks, tunnels and so on — deserve a pat of the back.
My summer driving is behind me now, but I did have to make yet another trip, to Calgary on the weekend. That’s always something else.
Driving Hwy 2 continues to be like travelling the (paved) road to hell — fast and dangerous.
Early Sunday, morning police clocked two vehicles racing, near Innisfail, going 214 km/h. They caught one of the drivers. The other one is probably in Halifax by now.
Mary-Ann Barr is the Advocate’s assistant city editor. She can be reached by phone at 403-314-4332, by email at barr@reddeeradvocate or on Twitter @maryanbarr1.