The trees are budding. The geese are returning. The days are longer and warmer. You can smell it in the air. That’s right. It’s time for road crews to stop failing to fix winter potholes and start getting ready to fail at fixing our summer roads.
Construction season is almost upon us.
It is that period between May and September when civic officials decide to rip up all the roads they fixed the previous year and try to fix them again. How can you tell when construction season is in full gloom? Here are a few telltale signs:
- You see orange everywhere you go.
- Four-lane highways are reduced to two lanes.
- Two-lane roads are reduced to one lane.
- One-way streets are reduced to the realization that pleasure is not a positive quality itself but merely the absence of pain.
The construction-season phenomenon dates back millennia, to approximately 4000 BC, when the first stone-paved roads were constructed in Ur in modern-day Iraq. Prior to this, paths made by animals served as the first roads. As roadways evolved from Cretan stone roads to 2,000-kilometre Babylonian super-roads to the amber routes of the Roman Empire, which crossed rivers, bridged mountain passes and spanned swamps, construction season became more and more unbearable. Today, with most of the planet covered in roads, construction season has become lamentably lyrical. As American poet Robert Frost so eloquently wrote:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
Was delayed 35 minutes by some construction guy,
And that has made all the difference.”
Despite its annual nature, construction season can be confusing. Just when you think you’ve seen the worst that it can throw at you, new ground is broken. Here is a brief “Construction Season Dictionary.”
“Construction 1 km” – This means that in exactly one kilometre you will wish you’d never been born.
“Road Work Ahead” – This sign has a picture of a man shovelling. You will never actually see anyone doing anything like this. These signs should show men smoking and talking on their cellphones.
“Lane Closed for Road Work” – These are more common than sunburns on a patio during happy hour. It means, “Cancel any plans you may have had.”
“Follow Detour” – When a highway is closed due to construction, drivers are directed on to alternate routes along strange and remote country roads. Don’t be surprised if you begin to wonder if you have in fact died and are now locked in some kind of rural purgatory.
“Speed Fines Doubled in Construction Zones When Workers Present” – These are important signs because workers can be seriously injured when drivers speed. Mostly, however, they are highly ironic as the idea of driving even remotely close to the speed limit in most construction zones is a fairy tale.
“Local Traffic Only” – Only those who live on this street may drive on it, but most drivers ignore this sign and proceed as normal. Then their automobiles wind up in a hole and they need to call CAA.
“Construction – May 2018 until October 2018” – Any sign that tells you how long construction will take should be regarded as either a) the result of consumption of hallucinogenic drugs b) a cruel joke played by a malevolent deity or c) a cruel joke played by a malevolent deity on hallucinogenic drugs.
“End Road Work” – Don’t worry about it. You will never, ever, see one of these signs.