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EDITORIAL: Road rage


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December 9, 2014 by CORINNE LYNDS

Traffic delays due to road construction are out of control from coast to coast. If you enter “road construction” into Google, you will find an endless list of articles from small-town and global newspapers alike bemoaning traffic delays caused by construction.

As the editor of a construction magazine, I tend to be pretty forgiving of traffic delays caused by lane restrictions and roadwork. It is, after all, a good sign that our beloved industry is thriving.

That being said, I must admit, I am finding it increasingly difficult to explain to co-workers why 500 metres of the lane outside our office has been closed for weeks, with nothing more than a truck parked there.

Few things are more frustrating for drivers than traffic that slows to a crawl for a lane restriction that appears unnecessary. It’s making contractors look bad. They are being accused of poor planning and a complete lack of concern for the impact their projects have on traffic and surrounding businesses.

City of Hamilton Councillor Lloyd Ferguson says: “the city doesn’t have any rules governing lane closures, and it’s time for that to change.” He wants the city to create a policy that requires developers/contractors to stick to a timeline and face penalties if they cannot.

And Ferguson isn’t alone in his sentiment. Drivers and politicians from Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Ottawa and the eastern provinces want to see clearly defined rules in place to minimize traffic congestion caused by construction. We all know that any number of issues can pop up in the middle of a job causing delays. Whether that’s disputes between the contractor and the property owner, material shortages, unforeseen problems, change orders, lien waivers or even something as simple and frustrating as poor weather. Ask the contractors in Buffalo how their jobs progressed at the end of November!

There are lots of good reasons for construction delays in roadwork, but contractors need to do a better job of managing their worksites when these delays do occur. Re-open lanes that are not being worked on, park heavy equipment off-site when not in use, work off-peak hours when possible, use signage to inform the public of how long construction delays will last, and have a good explanation for what is causing the delay when the irate phone calls start rolling in.

What the public fails to understand is that contractors don’t want to deal with delays either. After all, time is money. And construction delays are expensive for all involved.

Heading into the long cold months of Canadian winter, and due to have a baby in just a few short weeks, I am more sensitive than usual to the potential risk of traffic delays. I for one am hoping for a smooth, blizzard and construction free ride to the hospital.

As the Christmas holidays approach and the New Year dawns, I will be leaving On-Site in the capable hands of contributing editor Jim Barnes. Jim was the editor of On-Site for many years before my time, and has a genuine love and fascination for this industry.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!


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