The gamble

by Janie Jones

The house that I am renting a room in in Big City sits in a very non-homogenized neighborhood. It has a lot of wooded lots, no sidewalks and a lot of non-uniformity between it’s level of posh-ness.  Some people have shacks with little more than gravel drives while others have huge privately wooded lots and fancy houses and paved driveways.  It is definitely an area which used to be rural and grew up very eclectically, probably over a very long time, on a long street that connects two major thoroughfares.

Despite being a rather busy street, or perhaps because if it, it has very few other “connections” to the rest of the roads in town.  Normally to get to school I just turn left out of the driveway and zip down the street and make three turns and in less than 10 minutes I’m at one of the Stickittoyou U parking lots.  If I want to shop or visit friends I just turn right from the driveway and in 10 minutes or less I’m most of the other places I want to be, so the location is pretty convenient.  I also like it a lot because , even though it is smack dab in the middle of everywhere I want to be, it doesn’t feel downtown city like; there are no bus lines and no businesses anywhere near my place, so there is a much lower number of random people wandering about that don’t belong.

As I believe it is an old neighborhood which used to be unincorporated, the road itself is not in super great condition and, following the major flood from a few years ago, many of the drainage culverts and sewer pipes apparently needed fixing as well as the road itself.  So, starting early in August, Big City began road work on my street.

At first they placed big blinking “road closed to thru traffic” signs and some barricades on both major ends of the street as well as at the few connecting side streets but only totally blocked of the “right” end of the street by taking a huge hole of pavement out.  But that wasn’t so bad because there were a few side streets you could turn off on before the big hole in the road and detour around it.  However, yesterday they tore a big hole in the “left” end.  That’s the end I need to go down to get to school.

Now, it happens that there is only one other way to get out ‘to the left’ from my place to Stickittoyou U and it takes you through a very convoluted series of residential streets and adds, I kid you not, about 10 minutes to my drive depending on whether you make a couple of lights.  You can access this other route from three side streets off my own street, some are a little less twisty than others, but all of them must be turned on fairly well in advance of where I need to make my first turn off my own street.  Or I can go the other long way and go ‘to the right’ which also adds about 10 minutes to my drive.

Are you still with me?

So I tell you all these things so you will appreciate this.

I came home mid afternoon on Wednesday and turned onto my street from ‘the left,’ weaving around the “road closed to thru traffic” sign and barricades as usual.  But then, yesterday, at 6:45am I left for school.  It was very, very foggy and hard to see far in the dim morning light, especially the grey road, other cars, and street signs.  I get almost to my turn and see the traffic light is green through the fog, but I also see other lights on construction trucks.  I am trying to figure out what is going on in the fog, and preparing to weave around the blockades to make my turn when, HOLY CRAP!  THERE IS NOW A HUGE HOLE IN THE STREET!

Thankfully, I had slowed way down to turn, so I was able to stop before being close enough for the hole to eat my car, with me in it.  But then I sat there a few moments stunned, as a herd of construction trucks moved around me, wondering what the heck I was supposed to do.  I could possibly turn around, but now there were trucks and workers all over behind me.  Where had they come from?

Then as I was fixing to back up, a guy came over and moved some equipment so I could get on the shoulder between the curb and a big pile of the material they pulled out of the big freaking hole and he waved me through to make my turn.

I tell you I felt kinda stupid, but those crews, man, they move freaky fast.  Kudos to you for efficiency.  Dudes.  You are amazing.  I definitely applaud your speed and skill at moving massive amounts of earth and rebuilding in a matter of a few hours.  But.  It is a pickle for me, and all the other people living on the street and having to use it every day, never knowing what the situation will be.  What route should I use today?  Will I be able to get through?  Things change quickly from day to day even from one hour to the next.  It often happens I leave and they are tearing up a hole, but a few hours later it’s filled in and that section of road is drive-able again.  Which is what happened with the big freaking hole that almost ate me in the fog yesterday.  When I drove home expecting to have to take the long convoluted detour from ‘the left’ end the hole was already filled in.  Scary, amazing, wonderful and frustrating.

It kinda blows me away that the city and construction company aren’t in better communication with the residents on the street.  I mean, not knowing where a new hole in the road is going to pop up could be dangerous.  Especially on a low visibility day.  And you would think they wouldn’t want you in their way either.  Is it that expensive/time consuming/or otherwise difficult to put up one of those big signs that blinks messages and say :

Attention local traffic: new work ahead, no outlet to Main Street today, detour around.

Is it too hard to change the signs as work progress advances?

So now I am wondering, what will I encounter.  Will I be able to go the normal route this morning?  Should I chance it?  Or should I double my commute time and go an alternate route?

It’s a gamble.

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2 Comments to “The gamble”

  1. You need to teleport. That’s what I do.

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