It’s a good thing we have massive amounts of road and bridge construction in all directions on key major highways or else this summer would be scary nice. The temperature is a pleasant and perfect 73 degrees at dusk as I write this. The weather forecast is for clear, sunny skies this week, except for a chance of rain on Thursday, which we’ll need by then. Just like when things were getting a little too dry last week, we got a nice inch of rain. August has dried us out some, but we’re still running a few inches above normal for rainfall since June 1.
Instead of our usual burnt and crispy August, the trees and vegetation are green and healthy. Any pond that normally holds water is full. The seeps in the hillsides are still damp with a bit of subsoil water flow. This is one of the greenest summers of recent decades.
Here’s some odds and ends for a summer that’s seems to be racing to an end.
The construction season is the direct opposite of the weather this summer. Interstate 29 has lane closures and orange barrels throughout Platte County with numerous bridges getting deck work and other repairs. At least one exit ramp is totally closed. There’s even construction work on the southern stretch of Interstate 435 on Platte County’s western side.
I can’t help but think that the work is costing businesses some income and the county some tax revenue.
The morning and evening drives from Platte City into Kansas City are slow and hassle filled. The evening rush hour has been the worst.
Many times when I’ve needed to purchase something, and I’m making the commute home from south of the river, I’ve postponed purchases and driven on past the intimidation of orange barrels near exit ramps at places such as Barry Road and NW 64th Street. The traffic crunch totally kills any desire to head back into town for fun or shopping in the evenings.
It seems like the start up of school and the end of the vacation season has eased the crunch just a tad.
But what’s been among the best weather summers of modern times in Platte County is among the worst commuter summers ever. I wish crews were working round the clock instead of mornings and days only, but a state highway department crunched for funding has to look for savings in construction bids, I guess.
My hearty thanks to the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department for traffic enforcement efforts in the construction zones, and almost all of I-29 is a construction zone right now with some tricky lane switches in places. Despite multiple 55 mph speed limit signs and 45 mph warning signs in construction areas with sharp curves, we still have plenty of guys and gals believing that 75 mph is their rightful speed.
You have to drive in stop-and-go, then slow, then slower, then slightly-faster traffic day in and day out to appreciate the knuckleheadedness of hot rod tailgaters in construction zones. The never-slow-down drivers cause wrecks. Then traffic halts for awhile.
I only wish authorities could do more evening enforcement to go with morning efforts.
Nothing gives me more satisfaction when a dude in a fancy car passes when an opening comes and gives me an anger stare because I was driving the speed limit. I know sooner or later they will get their reward in the form of a ticket, a nice fine and an upward adjustment in their insurance rates.
The bad drivers are a threat to hard-working construction crews, too. Some of the construction sites and open lanes are very tight.
When you’re driving in a modern car at 55 mph with the radio on, driving seems pretty tame and smooth. But when you’re standing in the open on the highway (think about your times changing a flat tire), a car seems like a several thousand pound missile that could end your life with one slip of a steering wheel.
Give ’em a brake in construction zones.
Last week I wrote about my lack of enthusiasm for drones and my fears that they had the potential to be more trouble than help. Lo and behold, a few days later, a story moved on national wires and ran in The Kansas City Star about drones posing new threats to aviation and becoming more a problems all the time.
Enjoy the droning sounds of locusts during the day and crickets at night. This summer is moving past us very fast now, and before we know, winter’s silence will be upon us.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.