The Summer of Orange Discontent

Description=ab23638.jpg AB23638 (RM) Traffic cones along side of road Taxi

Official Flora of Orange Summer

Many have heard the lame joke, made at times like these … “What’s the State flower of (fill in your favorite State/Commonwealth in dysfunction)?”  The punch line is pictured to the right.

It’s been one of those Summers in my little slice of Heaven on Earth.  Seems every week I am running into large rectangular announcements that “This road will be closed beginning on (month-date.)”  The amount of road work going on is enough to set commuters’ neck hairs a quivering!

My guess is that the Silver Lining in all this traffic disruption this Summer is a good sign for The Economy as a whole; but it truly wreaks havoc with the rate-of-productive-effort vs. travel time ratio.  And for some reason this Summer has seen much more infrastructure investment than any other Summer I can remember.

img_0036Summer’s tend to be most beneficial to blooming orange cones; but this one might set a record, not just for orange cones but also for orange detour signs (announced weeks in advance) and the deployment of the Flagger Forces of Evil.  I have joked recently that any hostile power, looking to pose damage and mayhem to American society would – as their first step in subversion – invest heavily in Flagger Force franchises.

Those guys are EVERYWHERE.  And even though they might seem innocuous, they control the smooth flow of American auto society.  Too perfect a cover for a nefarious force looking to nonchalantly position themselves at numerous strategic venues and choke points.  Reminds me of German efforts to sabatage the Allied response to the Nazis’ World War II offensive in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge).  They sent commandos to infiltrate behind Allied lines, disrupting communications and responses by – among other things – changing routing and destination signage!

img_0035It’s getting to the point where I am recognizing Flagger Force operatives moving from one choke point to another.  That cannot be a good thing!

My work commute is generally a non-invasive, relaxing commune with Nature along the secondary and back roads of eastern Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Hatboro, Upper Moreland, Abington, Cheltenham).  No stress, relaxing scenery, manageable traffic …

Until this Summer anyway …

On any given morning, I can find two or three of my favored secondary roads impassable due to construction or repair work.  From the all too obviously needed bridge rework to road re-paving to power-line tree trimming to sewage and water line installations to God only knows what, it has been a particularly active Season of Infrastructure!

Terwood Road (closed since July 5) has been a real kick in the commute, a direct route slicing east-southeast through bucolic settings guaranteed to settle the most nervous commuter.  Worse yet, the popular route’s closure in an area not exactly brimming with non-invasive alternative routes, throws other east-west secondary routes in the area into complete disarray, forcing me to use primary routes (e.g. Route 611) where the driving is closer to Mad Max: Fury Road than psyche-settling leisure.

UPDATE:  Just days after posting this, Welsh Road (Route 63), another rather vital East-West commuter link, particularly for PA Turnpike access in eastern Montgomery County, had two sections narrowed to one lane (one for bridge work crossing over the Turnpike); had another stretch east of Washington Lane completely closed for God-only-knows-what, and is being resurfaced!!

It’s both maddening and reassuring in the “Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure” way of thinking.

  1. Roads – and the utilities running along and below them – are essential.
  2. Roads take a beating.
  3. Roads require maintenance and semi-regular investment to maintain long-term utility.
  4. Maintenance and Investment Time sucks when moving from Point A to Point B!

There’s NEVER a good time to do it.  And when it’s being done, it’s never a good time for anyone … other than the good people (so far as we know) of Flagger Force!

Just shoot me already … (That was sarcasm, FF!)

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5 thoughts on “The Summer of Orange Discontent

  1. Here where I’m at road construction is rare…but then again, so is traffic. A traffic jam here means we’re waiting for a flock of turkeys to cross the road.

    Had my best friend from childhood here a few weeks ago…he finally sold the Red Lion and retired. During the past 5 years I’ve told him I drive an hour without seeing another car. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.

    As for the work…yeah, that should be done at night whenever possible. Like I95 through Bucks about 17 years ago. They completed a portion at night and by 6am the road was open.

    I don’t miss the traffic back east. I do miss pretzels and good pizza…two things I can do without. Used to take me 20-30 minutes to get from Holland to Redner’s in Langhorne. Now town is 4 miles away…and takes about 5 minutes if the light is red. And that light? The next one is literally 60 miles away

    State flower of Wisconsin? I have no idea…but I do know it’s an actual flower.

    • We had soft pretzels yesterday at our barbecue. Good pizzas are a dime a dozen here. Traffic here is horrible, especially if you cannot use the back roads as I prefer to do.

      • Part of why I left the east coast was traffic. The cost of living is MUCH lower as well. 5 acres, nice sized house, built in 1985, big garage (4 cars), a few hundred yards from a lake and woods everywhere. I literally live in a forest. Taxes? Less than $1100 a year.

        I found that every time I got in my truck I became agitated…I knew what I was about to confront. Idiots, arrogance, and inept traffic engineering. Insurance rates through the roof, trash everywhere, noise, crime, infuriating politics.

        I’m tellin’ ya, this life out here is so damn peaceful I’m thinking that with just a few more toys this is exactly what heaven looks like. (Get me a flock of snowmobiles and a school of jet skis and nirvana is achieved!)

  2. I could approach the orange cones and barrels philosophically except in the case of a half mile or more of lane closure for anti-climatic or none existent work going on!

    I do remember Syracuse’s major expansion of I-81 all being done between 7 pm and 5 am at night. That was a long time and twice as many people ago.

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