Friday, August 22, 2014

East End Road Construction 2014

The agony of this summer has been traffic delays nearly every time we drive into or from town. Road construction from about mile 3.5 to 5.0 on East End Road as they redo ditches, replace all culverts, move power lines and build a bike path has us scratching our heads daily. They dig out the dirt, then fill it in, push the dirt around, dig it out and then fill it in again. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to all this dirt moving. 

Large concrete forms have been built for culverts to handle large amounts of water coming down from the bluff

Just a typical construction view...recent rain has probably been slowing things down

Ravines along this section of East End Road are deeper than one realizes
A 3 foot deep, 1 foot wide square-cut ditch runs the entire length of the project, with plastic drainpipes sticking up out of it at regular intervals. Tybar, the heavy duty black tarp-like stuff they put down under the roads is rolled out, waiting for fill to cover it up and the road to finally be widened. It took nearly 2 months just to move all the telephone and electric lines on the bay side of the road to the bluff side and take down the poles.

Each of my two to three trips to town each day are punctuated by 10-20+ minute waits, unless I am lucky enough to catch the line just as it is beginning to head through the construction area. The flaggers are as familiar as family, and yesterday I had the misfortune to turn off my car while waiting and when the line began to move I discovered it wouldn't start so a flagger had me put the vehicle in neutral and pushed me to the nearest intersection. I now plan my waiting-in-the-car activities: read my email, open the mail, check Facebook or make phone calls. On the good side my kids know better than to ask me to run them to town, because a "run" to town means an hour round trip. We try to go before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. when the road is open without delays.

While waiting in traffic one day recently Denver was asking me about the road project and I suggested he get online and look it up. Apparently this is a 6.5 million dollar project, with 90% of it being paid for by the federal government. The bike path portion of it is $800,000, so it seems like that part is being paid for by more local (state or borough) monies. It is a 2-year project, which staggers me that we'll have to deal with this next year too. For what?  One and a half miles of gorgeous road and more bike path? The road wasn't great, but I didn't think it was that bad either! And of course we are just hoping the road is paved before winter. We have had more issues with car repairs this summer than all the other years we've lived here, many of them bump-related repairs, which seems like more than coincidence.

What really strikes me each time I drive through the construction zone is how little I know about road-building. I can't even venture a guess for some of the things that they are doing. On one hand it gives me more respect for a career where folks can figure out things like this and run heavy machinery like pros; on the other hand I wonder if they even know what they are doing and if our taxpayer dollars are being drained by projects like this. I just don't know, and I am really, really curious to see if the road and ditches they create actually can handle the insane water and ice issues that develop in this area in the winter. Time will tell. Come to think of it, I should have written this blog post while waiting in traffic.

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