Before I took a road trip, I checked the MnDOT construction page. It has all the places where you will find orange cones, construction debris and no one working. This is what you usually get this time of the year:
I-94 Clearwater to Moorhead. Perfectly good road surface installed last year will be removed for no apparent reason and replaced; traffic rerouted to the ditch. Expect delays, weeping. May-Labor Day.
Hwy. 6 (Wisconsin border to South Dakota border). Inspectors will be on the scene looking for Hwy. 6, which was misplaced in 2014 due to a clerical error.
Hwy. 42 west of East Johnsonville to east of West Johnsonville. Road will be painted black to make it look like it got new asphalt. All lanes closed; detour goes through Manitoba, so have your papers ready.
County Road Z and 386th St. Installation of new guardrails on the scenic Hairpin Bridge over Screaming Gorge Creek. Previous 2-foot-high guardrails were not sufficient to stop a speeding semi; guardrails will now conform to state’s new 2-foot-6-inch standard.
Hwy. 10 Motley to Hawley. Installation of grooves along the shoulder to scare the bejeepers out of you when you drift out of the lane because you were texting.
I-35 Burnsville to Texas. Lane striping. Isn’t it, like, symbolic, dude, when you really think about it? The lanes don’t exist until they put down the white stripes. Before that, we’re all in one lane. But then they put down these white lines, and suddenly everyone’s: “Whoa, this is my lane, dude, and that’s yours.” And you have to signal to move to another lane or they arrest you. Yeah, land of the free, right. Didn’t we order a pizza? Is that the guy ringing the bell? What if it’s the cops?
County Road H. Orange Barrel Rotation and Relocation Program. The barrels will be lined up for approximately 16 miles, making motorists think something will be happening soon. Then they will be removed without explanation. No improvements will be made, but area residents will think something was done.
That’s what I expected, anyway. Well, I checked the route for Hwy. 10 to the NoDak border. Aside from something minor in Detroit Lakes — polishing the reflective disks on the guardrails or something — there was nothing. Nothing. I sailed up Hwy. 169 to the northern part of the metro — a construction zone nightmare once, but now it’s done. Drove to St. Cloud on a stretch that used to loosen your fillings. Now it’s smooth.
Perhaps the complaining we do about construction is not balanced by appreciation for the work after it’s done. I’m not saying we should throw bunches of roses out the window as we pass through construction sites; decent roads are the minimum we expect from a functioning government. But I just drove 240 miles without a hint of orange, and that’s a first for a summer drive.
Of course, they ought to do something about that stretch outside of Wadena where four lanes go to two. Why hasn’t that been done yet? Why do we pay taxes for? Come on, MnDOT.
Road rage! You don’t even have to get in your car to experience it.