Although Halloween is but a week away, commuters driving on St. Albert Trail have been haunted by frighteningly long delays due to ongoing bridge repairs. During the last two months, especially during the supper-hour rush, the descent northbound into the valley has been bumper-to-bumper. The funnel effect caused by reduced lanes and the need to merge right or left or both, depending on the day, leaves drivers a frustrating 15 to 20 minutes to contemplate life during those final few kilometres to anywhere north of the Sturgeon River. It begs the question — what’s the hold up?
Considering our recent scrape with winter, one could argue that snow and ice were the culprits for the delays. Spinouts and stalls certainly add spice to the daily roadway grind but they are nothing that breaking down and buying a proper set of tires wouldn’t fix. So, although Old Man Winter is almost upon us, our recent return to autumn still sees the lengthy line of red taillights to the horizon. So what else might be the problem?
What about merging etiquette? Back in the good old days when gas was only 81.9 cents (seems like only a week ago), drivers seemed to understand and appreciate the roadway code of chivalry — you let the car ahead merge into your lane and then proceed yourself. Lately however, in this age of self-entitlement and ‘It’s all about me,’ it would appear the rules of the road only apply to some. We have all seen the guy who knows full well there is a need to merge ahead but he races ahead of a dozen or so cars anyway, narrowly avoiding bold black arrows and bright orange pylons expecting to be let in because … he drives a cool truck? It’s no wonder our road construction signs are made in festive Halloween colours — it’s downright scary out there! Ignorant drivers aside however, there must be some reason why the construction is taking such a long time.
Perhaps it’s the tough economic times? With a four point recovery plan afoot perhaps we will need to wait until the provincial coffers become flush again so more workers can be hired to expedite the process? With budget cutbacks coming, maybe we simply need to adjust to closing down a lane or two and be satisfied with burning more gas in those long line-ups. There is method to this madness! Slow down traffic and vehicles burn more fuel idling. This means more fuel is required, leading to increased demand, which means more money coming to the government for those much needed infrastructure fixes! How clever their crafty plan! Stelmechonomics aside, I think I have stumbled upon the real reason the bridgework is taking so long — trolls.
Under the overpass, lurking near the support stanchions, hiding in bushes at the edge of Sir Winston Churchill Drive, you have perhaps, like me, caught a fleeting glimpse of those shadowy figures skulking about. I mean, what troll doesn’t love a bridge? I am afraid the workers have been frightened off and the trolls are now wreaking havoc on unsuspecting motorists. Are there no gruff goats in our midst to save the day?
For the interim I will continue seeking alternate routes, listening to books on tape, and do my part to extend every road-sharing courtesy unless, of course, there is a full moon. Happy driving and happy Halloween!
Tim Cusack has read Good Goats by the Linn Family and will be dressing as Don Cherry this Halloween.