Road Work

For three straight evenings, I have had the chance to observe lanes being closed and traffic being messed up along a road that I regularly drive on near where I live. On the first night, I was returning home from dinner and found that the road was completely blocked approaching a major intersection, so much so that I decided to turn around–as no traffic was coming the other way–and find an alternate route home. Yesterday, I was returning home after a much longer drive home after dinner, and found that only one lane on the same road going the same direction home was closed, which only slightly delayed the journey. This evening, I found that as I was going to dinner that they were closing a lane in the northbound direction instead as weel as the leftmost lane coming out of the shopping center I was heading into, demonstrating that whatever work was going on along the side of the road, that different work was being done each night, even if that work was not labeled particularly well.

In the metropolitan area where I live, the quality of the roads, along with the quality of much else, has gotten increasingly bad recently. Massive and frequent potholes, damage to roads from heavy vehicles, and other problems make for terrible roads that are not repaid in a timely fashion. In addition to this, one can regularly see incidents where the need to build or repair or upgrade data connections or water mains causes further roadwork that does not improve the condition of the road at all, and often has to be redone when different systems need to be upgraded or repaired on different schedules.

Road work can have a bit of a bad name when such work carries on indefinitely with little positive end result in sight. For far too many areas, road work is synonymous with endless delays with lanes closed, roads in a terrible state of repair, and people being paid interminably while the road itself does not show progress for long periods of time. In many of the areas where I have lived and visited, road work has continued for periods of years, to the point where it took about 3 decades or so for I-79 to be built in West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, and where ongoing work projects with faithful signs touting “Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work” continue on as state and federal departments of transportation work out plans for bridges and roads that change form, widen lanes, and the like.

One wonders if this was always the case. Among the most praiseworthy aspects of the Roman Empire are the roads that have often remained at least partially in use for thousands of years now. It is hard to imagine any road constructed by any department of transportation that I am aware of that would be functional in ten years’ time without continual repaving efforts, much less thousands of years. There are numerous reasons for this–the quality of smoothness necessary for modern roads is far greater than that for Roman roads, the speeds and weight of vehicles on those roads is far higher, and there are contemporary concerns in terms of using recycled materials, all of which create a lack of long-term use. One wonders, though, if the Roman roads had the same corrupt sorts of people who profited from civil projects, and if infrastructure has always been a way to reward friends and exploit the populace.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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