Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Road construction

They say there are two seasons in Utah: winter and road construction. How true it is. There are two points of Utah road construction that intrigue me: 1) Their precision in timing major work until the city will be overflowing with visitors and 2) How often they break things.

Two of the major traffic veins in the Provo/Orem area have been under construction for the past while. While I was teaching at a junior high school on 800 North in Orem they did road work on that street which closed off all but one lane in each direction. This was problematic for school buses, parents and teachers. They also scraped up and repaved the road on the south of the school, leaving many people with no parking spaces. When did the work on both these streets end? The day after school let out. They also started work on University Parkway and 800 North in Provo the week of the Freedom Festival. Not so terrible a sin until one realizes that it is the largest 4th of July celebration in the country (or so they tell us). Once that work was finished they decided to wait a few weeks before moving to another critical stretch of University Parkway. This part is in Orem right by the mall, as well as right in front of my window at work. When did they begin closing lanes on this vein from the freeway to BYU? The first day of Education Week, when the streets are clogged with old people from out of town, most who can't see above the steering wheel of their Cadillac. This also coincided with the start of school at UVSC. Sigh.

My favorite instance of construction crews breaking things had to be about a week before their work started closing the lanes. A heavy machinery vehicle was loaded on the back of a small semi. For some reason unknown to me, the crewman driving the semi took it through the tiny lane that connects the shopping center I work in to the next one over. There is a tree on the corner of the exit with a limb that hangs over the road about 10-12 feet up from the ground. The cab of the semi got around it fine, but a piece of heavy machinery loaded onto a trailer is much higher than 10 feet off the ground. I'm so glad I was outside to see this. As the driver rounded the corner the limb got caught on the loaded vehicle. There were two loud cracks before the driver noticed there was anything wrong. Apparently confused about what to do next, he kept going as there were more cracks. The entire limb cracked until it was hanging far enough for its leaves to touch the ground. Once the driver parked the semi along the curb of the side road (effectively blocking all but the left turn lane) he came out to survey the damage. Casually, he yanked on the limb until it came down and flung it onto the curb. I thought road crews broke pipes, not trees.

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