Round and round and round. At least that’s what they say is supposed to be happening here. Road construction. To make improvements. But I don’t see anything round about it.
Apparently the roundabout is the latest craze here. The road engineers claim that roundabouts make travel safer and smoother. Instead of a traffic light or four way stop, everyone just goes in circles. Maybe not as dramatically as the family in National Lampoons European Vacation, stuck forever in the Paris roundabout, but still in circles.
The problem is that some people treat the roundabout as a wide open green light and stop or yield for nothing. And others are intimidated by the nonstop movement of vehicles and just freeze. A dead stop. I’m not a fan.
With the construction of this particular roundabout I‘ve become convinced that the real purpose of road construction is not to make any improvements, but rather to confuse people. And to trick them.
You take a bad situation and make it much worse. Slow down the traffic. Dig up the roads. Create detours and mega potholes. Just make it as bad as possible. Then slap down some new asphalt and paint a few new stripes and voilà!, a new and “improved” road. Except it’s not improved. It’s just different. And people are so happy that the damn construction is done that they don’t care if it’s any better or not.
But it’s never really done. This roundabout has been in the works for three months now. Still looks like a triangle. And the only roadwork I’ve seen is a crew occasionally tearing something up. It will be years.
Another much heralded project was recently “finished” near me. After four years of road widening, and traffic snarls, the busy road was reopened. It seems to carry less traffic now. But it’s pretty. Except that the construction crews keep coming back to redo some section of sidewalk, or patch some stretch of asphalt. How many years? How many millions? And it’s still screwed up.
Everyone who has ever driven on the interstate can relate to the lane closures for construction. Orange cones set up in one lane, thereby closing it off, for miles and miles and miles. Without a construction worker in sight. It’s just a lot of cones blocking the road for the hell of it. Someone out there has a great sense of humor.
It’s all part of an illusion. Jobs are created to do nothing. And money is spent. Not to make improvements, which is what we really need, but to make it look pretty.
Politicians endorse it. Contractors love it. And road engineers tout it. Only the people who have to drive on the roads complain. But hey, when it all gets put back together it’s at least better than it was during the construction. And that’s progress, isn’t it?!
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?