Linda Dunn: When roads become obstacle courses


Since orange cone season began this year, our two-car family has replaced five almost-new tires and one rim. The cost of towing and repairs has already exceeded our state surplus refund, and nothing can compensate for the missed appointments and inconveniences.

I think everyone recognizes that road conditions today are not what they used to be back in the days when families used to pile into the car for a drive in the country after church. Some of us even packed a picnic lunch for the park while others liked to drive past homes and maybe even walk through an open-house or two. Those of us who rented sometimes looked for sale signs and dreamed of the day we could live in one of these places.

If we tried to do this today, we wouldn’t need to toss the picnic salad before leaving because it would be thoroughly tossed by the time we arrived at our destination, assuming we weren’t swallowed by a giant pothole on the way there.

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining, and this one is that we’ve now had the opportunity to visit places we’d never considered before as we are forced to detour around construction sites, auto accidents and cars temporarily stranded due to damaged tires.

I have grown increasingly worried about driving on bridges since I can’t swim and my car doesn’t float. Perhaps I should add a life jacket to the other items that I carry in case of emergencies.

I sincerely wish the state would not refund my taxes and instead spend some of those funds on fixing the roads that will need fixing after being the default detour for the traffic that used to flow on state roads and interstates.

It would be nice if this was done without some of the measures taken on the state roads, where we now have to navigate around and between concrete slabs designed to keep us in our lane and then wait through multiple light changes to make a U-turn without being hit by oncoming traffic.

I don’t know who set the standards for these concrete slabs in the middle of entrances to strip malls but while my little economy car can navigate between the slabs, I notice there are already tire marks on most of these, and I frequently see large pickup trucks tilting a few degrees while driving over them.

While I concede the road surfaces of these newly rebuilt state roads are much smoother than the roads that occasionally swallow my tires, I spend much more time on these pockmarked roads than I do on the newly paved ones.

At the same time that our local roads have become a temporary I-70 detour, our county is considering adding warehouses near the airport.

I hope they’re taking into consideration the weight of the material these warehouses are going to be storing and the need to widen and strengthen the roads that semis will presumably be using when delivering and picking up whatever it is that is being stored.

Trucks and semis are an essential component of our economy and need the roads they drive upon to be capable of supporting them. We commuters and local travelers would appreciate it if our roads could accommodate all of us.

The federal infrastructure deal — if it ever gets through Congress — could rebuild our roads and bridges. However, those funds are unlikely to trickle down to county roads, and they’re never going to resolve the problem of over-large semis driving over the sidewalks near the county courthouse.

For that, we’re going to need a functional I-70 and a truck route around Greenfield that can support that level of traffic while offering truck drivers an equal or better drive time to encourage its use.

I offer to forfeit my state refund if it will be used for improving our roads. The amount I’d save on future car repairs would more than compensate for that loss.

A lifelong resident of Hancock County, Linda Dunn is an author and retired Department of Defense employee. Send comments to [email protected].