The Detours of Summer

michigan roadsWhile we were away, I noticed that M-24, a main street that has been under construction for the past two summers, had finally opened a two track through the partially completed roadway.  I am excited; as soon, the zig-zagging through the neighborhood to get around the major road constructions throughout our town is going to finally end.  Often during our second summer of insanity, I found myself observing the characters of people in gridlock when enduring, not one, but two summers of this type of detour-mania; with its mix of subtle niceties, with an occasional “What the hell?

Being a resident near the downtown area I knew how to stay out of the way of the drivers that were “passing through” our town; finding the little short cuts that the non-residents didn’t know about.  Being able to sidestep some of the insanity did help to lighten the madness as the various road projects progressed.

Most people I encountered were polite, allowing you to slide in off a side street entrance or business driveway.  Then, of course, there were those that wouldn’t give an inch.  You could see the stress on their faces as they were intentionally ignoring you; blocking the intersection in order to ensure no one actually got a car length ahead of them.  At one point in my life that would have annoyed me; instead, I sat remembering what it felt like to have that type of anxiety and politely smiled, knowing that it wasn’t up to me to judge why they were feeling the way they were feeling.  You can see the mix of resignation, irritation and for some, that “just going with the flow”; smiling their way through it.  For me, the years have taught me that you can only go as fast as the guy ahead of you and you have to be good with that; otherwise you rob yourself of an inner-peace that comes with acceptance.  I have many memories of a younger me losing my mind over other people when I was driving.  I am so very grateful those days are behind me, praise the Lord.

With our main north/south thoroughfare being overhauled, certain inconveniences come to mind.  Outside the obvious with the road closure, I can’t help but wonder how many sleepless nights did those living closer to the project have to endure; with the constant, rhythmic, thunderous thump of some earth pounding machine in the middle of the night? I know there was a certain logic as to why they were doing it at night, however, I’m sure that logic escaped the homeowners that were within a quarter-mile of the project.

The final result of the project includes a bridge and an underground pedestrian tunnel; which has brought out all types of social media theories, ranging from better usage of taxpayers money to envisioning a future place for the homeless and the dregs of society to hang out.  You could say that almost everything is a waste of some taxpayers’ money at some point; however, this time those “wasted” funds went to help our town out.  The time and money was spent here.  As I observe people complaining that the roads around the state are falling apart, I can’t help being a bit thankful that they are fixing ours.

On the other side of town, another project led many to question as to whether we needed a round-about in our town.  The answer is probably not, and many would agree that a light would have likely been sufficient; however, whether we liked it or not, we were going to have to roll with the punches.  However, there was no punch to this one.  No-one likes change, and the roundabout was a change.  We are getting used to it.  These improvements to our roads and infrastructure, in a time where many towns are in serious need of the exact enhancements that are happening in our town, are something I am personally thankful for.  Yes, we have had to endure a lot of inconvenience over the past two years; however, I cannot find any argument that overrides the fact that our town has been enhanced by these projects in a state and a nation where our infrastructures are outdated and hazardous.

The new bridge and pedestrian tunnel, as well as the roundabout, may not be everybody’s cup of tea and there will always be those that will fight to the bitter end to tell you how ridiculous everything is in life.  The reality, at least in my mind, is that the taxpayers’ money was “wasted” in our town; those “wasted” funds gave us new infrastructure that should last a while and it has helped to beautify the roads that travel through our town.  In my world, that is a win.

Next summer, when all these road construction horror stories are well behind us and we are enjoying the newness of our roads, we will have new concerns.  Interacting with drivers will still remain an experience that embraces courteousness and those special “What the hell?” moments.  At least with some degree of certainty, you will know when you are driving through Lapeer that you should be able to do it without blowing out a tire.  Ah, the things to be thankful for in life.

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