Road Stories

That “infrastructure stimulus” spending is still going on like gangbusters. Everywhere I drive, I’m getting stopped for single-lane traffic delays. I’d gotten used to it on busy main roads like Hwy. 26 between Owen Sound and Wasaga Beach, but the other day, I got dinged on a back road I use to avoid the slowdowns on 26.

The (back) road they were “fixing” was already one of the best stretches of pavement you could find in Grey County. I regularly used it as a motorcycle touring road, both for the scenery and the excellent pavement. So, it was with a little puzzlement I noted they had ripped up a long section, returning it to gravel road status (I assume they’re going to re-pave it as part of this project). ┬áBut the conclusion that they were fixing something that wasn’t ‘broke’ is inescapable (in fact, they were “breaking” it before they fixed it, come to think of it).

Another thing I’ve noticed about road work is the composition of road crews: They consist of an enormous proportion of young, blonde women acting as flag-persons. In one traffic interruption, I counted about 30 “workers”, approximately half of whom were blonde women, all of whom except one, were just standing around talking, interacting with their devices and just doing their best to pass the time. (The one guy “working” was driving one of those sweeping devices.) How do these roads actually get built?

I suppose it’s to be expected that governments spend money to justify the illusion they’re doing something productive about a problem. What scares me is the thought just how much of the “work” is of the “make” kind with little or no enduring benefit. In these times of belt-tightening, it might become necessary to give some thought to ‘benefit’ side of the cost/benefit equation.

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