The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Column: Construction Blues


Since I can remember, I have always heard people say there are only two seasons in the Rocky Mountains – Spring and road construction.

While this is not entirely true, it seems like near the end of every April construction projects start popping up all over the Interstate and other highways and roads. This year has been no different, and there are already quite a few on Interstate 90.

Often times the construction will lead to one lane of traffic and for whatever reason, this turns people into complete savages with no thoughts of others or safety.

These are kind of the things I have noticed so far this year, but I’m pretty sure they happens each and every year.

The first is the speeding driver who waits until the last absolute moment to get into the correct lane when the other is going to be closed. There are signs posted for at least a mile before the lane ends, but they decide to hit the gas and try to cut into front of anyone at the last moment. They expect the people behind them to slow down. This is not only is rude, it is dangerous. It can’t be that hard to get over in time.

I honestly wonder how much better life is for people like this. So you get two work three minutes earlier, you are still at work.

The next is the impatient driver. The highway department sets the speed for a reason when there is construction. Most people follow it, but there is always the person behind that gets so frustrated they start swerving back and forth as is if they are going to try and quickly pass in the closed lane. All it does is frustrate the person in front of them who wonders why the person behind them has all of a sudden turned into a NASCAR driver ready to restart a race. Turn up the music and relax, even if you could pass, you would eventually get behind a semi that would probably make you a lot more impatient. And a bit of advice for the people that love to tailgate through construction -- all this is going to do is make the person in front of you go slower, a lot slower.

The third thing I noticed is probably a combination of the first two. There have been several times in the past several weeks I have glanced over and saw that workers were really close to the lane.

This doesn’t stop people from flying by way too fast. I can’t force somebody to slow down, but if you don’t realize the safety concern when workers are within feet of you, there is probably not a lot of help anyone can give you. If you’re speeding and hit somebody, you are going to get far more than a slap of the wrist.

I almost forgot to mention the person on a cell phone or distracted in another way. This is dangerous 365 days a year, but even worse in construction. I’m pretty sure the applying of the last touches of make up, the call to your college roommate to plan an epic summer trip to Mexico, or texting someone to take the hamburger out of the freezer could wait.

The construction is always needed, and sure it can be a pain. Leaving a few minutes earlier or arriving a few minutes later never hurt anything. I very well could be in the minority with my views, but I sure hope I’m not.

I’m sure I’ve got several more months of seeing these shenanigans over and over, but it would be nice to have one drive without them.


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