Orange construction cones – they have been the bane of every Utahns existence for at least the past decade and the chances of going anywhere in this State without seeing an orange barricade, an open trench, a road grader, dump truck, a ‘One Way’ or ‘Keep to the Right’ sign or a dozen guys in orange vests standing around while one guy does the work of twelve guys.
Construction has become so common throughout Utah that there are traffic reports every 15-minutes and when you walk out your door, you already have three back-up routes in case you need to take an alternate route because the original alternate route has been diverted due to (you guessed it) construction.
And it doesn’t matter where you go. A short while ago we were driving down a remote road to drop the boys off at a Scout camp and right there, on a two-lane highway typically used by farmers on tractors and other farmers on horseback, were orange cones and two road workers stopping traffic in both directions as their friends installed a new culvert.
I totally understand the process now. What Utahn doesn’t? We have even added new terms to our vocabulary because we are inundated with road construction. Yes, our population has been booming and yes the sprawl is inevitable because despite people despising Utah’s largely conservative base, quirky laws and Mormon culture, this is a great place to raise a family. But what good is it when you can’t drive (or walk for that matter because the sidewalks are closed) to your destination just five miles away without having to pack a lunch and a good book because it will take you two hours to get there?
For the past two months we have had quite a challenge getting in and out of our cul-de-sac. The entire road has been ripped up while the gas company replaces old hardware. Again, I understand that the government and utility companies are doing this to make our lives easier but in the processes they are making our lives miserable. My friends who live one street over from our house on the main road in and out of our neighborhood can’t even get in and out of their driveway because there is a 10-foot drop-off and a sliver of blacktop where there used to be a two-lane road.
There are benefits to this madness I’m sure – Better roads and better utilities after months of work. The downside is purely personal, right? Here’s a short list of my personal downsides to all of the orange in my world:
- Damage to personal property – Add up the cost of chipped and broken windshields, scratches to my car (aesthetically my cars/van are lemons anyway so not much of a setback here), the car wash (dust and dirt should be new paint colors), blown tires, damage to undercarriage, alignment and new shocks or struts. And that is just for vehicles. My front and back yard have been ripped up at least three times in the three years we’ve lived here and even after their so called improvements, cable, water, electricity and gas service are suspect.
- Damage to my nerves – Remember that little bit about having three alternate routes to get around in our town? No joke! In order to travel five miles to drop on kid off at a football game and then drive to another football game is a major undertaking. Our two main roads (State and Main) are now down to one lane in each direction over a six or seven mile stretch. The on and off ramps to the freeway have bumper-to-bumper traffic between the hours of 7am and 9am, and 3pm – 6pm every day except Sunday. You have to add an extra 20-60 minutes to your commute because of the delays, not because of the distance. And the congestion leads to a higher probability of accidents because you have more impatient people like me on the road!
- Damage to relationships – All of that ‘The outcome is based on your attitude’ talk is thrown out the window when you’re traveling 5MPH to get to the dentist because you have a toothache that needs attention…NOW! I try my best to be positive but after driving 10 miles to get somewhere that’s just two miles away it kind of ruins all of my happiness and the dentist is going to get strangled if he doesn’t stop drilling a hole in my head.