Thursday, May 12, 2011

You can't get there from here

Iowa County has more orange detour signs per square mile than any other part of the state.

Last week, three of the main routes I use to get around the county were either closed or reduced to the dreaded “one lane road, follow pilot car.”

Just shoot me now.

I am not a patient person when it comes to waiting in road construction zones. I fidget. I creep a little closer to the car ahead of me. I worry about the guy creeping closer behind me. I check my watch. I fidget some more. I change radio stations about 40 times (XM Satellite Radio encourages this sort of behavior even when I'm not stuck in traffic. It's addictive.) I decide to balance my checkbook. About then, the pilot car comes through and just as I’m scratching my head, trying to remember why I wrote a $47 check to someone named Sarah, it’s time to move.

When Highway 6 closed east of Marengo for bridge repair, waiting for a pilot car wasn’t even an option. The road was closed, period. It was detour time.

Being a “local” person, I took one look at the official detour and wondered who came up with it and what were they drinking? It was too long and added about 18 miles to my morning commute. No way was I doing that. I think “local” translates as “thinks she knows better.”

The first day of the road closure, I cut cross country on gravel, which was seriously the shortest detour if you don’t mind driving on gravel. Most people don’t like to drive on gravel so I thought I’d have the road to myself.

I thought wrong.

Apparently everyone else in the county was taking the cross-country gravel route. This was a couple of weeks ago, when it had been raining for about 10 days straight. That much rain on gravel roads meant there was one track down the middle with deep, muddy ruts on either side. Made for some excitement when you meet someone. A number of people who were driving smack dab right down the middle of the road looked surprised and amazed that someone might becoming from the opposite direction.

On the bright side, there wasn’t any dust.

It took me a couple of days to work out a better detour that stayed on hard surfaced roads. With some creative twists and turns, I found one. It adds about five minutes to my drive time and after a week, I've figured out how to time it in the morning so I don't spend the last three miles stopping behind the school bus.

Then there's a stretch of Highway 151 south of Amana looks like it’s in for a summer-long bridge replacement project, reducing traffic to one lane. I’ll get lots of chances to practice patience while waiting for my turn to follow the pilot car. Maybe I'll figure out who Sarah is and why I gave her $47.

1 comment:

  1. OMG you sound just like me in a traffic. In fact, if it looks like I'm in for a long haul I'd rather go surface streets just to keep moving rather than stop and start, stop and start.