Gotten caught in a highway-construction delay recently? It’s going to be a long summer.
There are lots of road-repair projects happening now, especially on state highways. Guess what? That’s what happens when the flow of new roadwork funding from state gas taxes hits 2019’s extended winter-spring-into- summer storm siege.
Highway maintenance class 101: You shouldn’t pave when it’s raining or cold.
We should be grateful that things are getting fixed. But I get it: People, especially residents of Cambria and San Simeon, can really be impacted when their towns are bisected by the area’s only north-south route. The only way to guarantee that we won’t get stopped by a flagger is to stay home.
With projects to our east on the two-lane Highway 46 and to the north, south and in town along the two-lane Highway 1, there’s no escaping the “roadwork ahead” warning signs, relentless “I’m backing up now” beep- beep-beep of construction equipment and long lines of terminally impatient drivers, fidgeting while they wait for their turns to go.
There’s been lots of social-media griping about it.
That’s OK. It’s a harmless way of blowing off steam, and it beats yelling at the poor flagger who has to stand there all day, flipping the “stop”-“slow” sign under the heat of driver displeasure and grumpy faces. It’s not his/her fault, after all. I had to admire the doggedly determined optimism of one Nextdoor poster who braved the flood of online ire to state that, “but think of how nice the roads will be when they are finally done.”
Yup. We do get a hint of the paving bliss ahead of us in the newly completed roadwork stretch near Cuesta College. Smooooth…. But from the vantage point of a frequent visitor to San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles, or even worse, someone who commutes along those routes, that bliss-to-come still feels a long way into the future.
I try to plan ahead, I really do.
I check the appointment time and leave an hour earlier than usual. I take my book, a magazine and a beverage, and rely on a functioning car radio or my iPod (some spots on Highway 46 have dicey reception, as any cellphone user will tell you). And absolutely guaranteed — I visit the restroom right before I hit the road. I’ve even tried practicing a modified meditation routine while I wait. I can’t close my eyes, but I can count my deep breaths and consciously relax my muscles, one by one.
By the time I get to my butt, however, my body has begun to rebel. Sitting in a car while driving is one thing. Sitting in a car while not driving is something else entirely … unless you’re downing a frosty A&W root-beer float brought to you by a carhop, watching a movie at the drive-in theater, or (ahem) making out.
And then there was my friend Jim from Cambria, whose service job means he occasionally works some mighty strange hours. His appointment was at midnight in Nipomo, a sizeable commute. He said he’d allowed plenty of extra time. He thought.
But when his was literally the only vehicle on either side of the traffic stop during a 45-minute wait … well, his normally jolly demeanor was a little tweaked by the time he was allowed to proceed. Tolerating all the construction is one thing, but when I’m doing that AND dealing with idiot drivers?
For instance, the two women sitting in the car in front of us, flicking their cigarette ashes out their open windows, one of them toward rapidly drying grass next to the road’s shoulder. Repeat after me, “wildfire danger!” Then when I’m confronted, literally, by dangerously inconsiderate drivers risking the lives of others along with their own, just because they got stuck in a road-construction lineup … You get the picture.
On June 20, we’d gotten the flagger’s go-ahead, and the long line of cars began to inch down the grade, slowly picking up speed. A clueless, pigeon-livered ratbag near the end of the line crossed the double-yellow line on a hilly curve and sped into oncoming traffic (me) so he could pass 10 cars at once.
Dunderhead !!*&*^%&%$%^&(*)_)+#$)*($^%&*!!! If anybody’d been in that bicycle lane …. We’ll get through this construction stuff, people. Really we will, as long as an idiot driver doesn’t take us out first.