Don’t get mad

We don’t want to call an editorial “annual,” as though we can plan for it to come out every year about the same time, but we could almost do that with this one. Call it the “Fourth Annual Please, Don’t Engage in Road Rage Because Those Construction Workers Aren’t at Fault and State Officials are Plainly Too Incompetent or Understaffed or Impotent to Ensure Your Safety When You Drive in the Truckee Meadows” editorial.

We live in one of the fastest growing urban areas in the nation. Those thousands of people who move to town every month need asphalt to drive on. Those impoverished fuel companies need to rape you for profits (otherwise they might be forced to invest in other forms of investment, like renewable fuels). If our community were to spend any money at all creating safe bike lanes for commuters, our government would have less money generated by fuel tax. Get it? In government bean-counter speak, bike lanes don’t pay for themselves.

So, we’re clear, right? Road construction is good. It’s a sign that, percentage-wise, a few people in the Truckee Meadows are having their quality-of-life improved by being able to buy larger homes in resort areas like Lake Tahoe. The rest of us will someday be able to drive without endless unpredictable delays … OK, that’s stupidly optimistic. There is no reason to believe that the road construction nightmare will ever improve for the vast majority of the citizens of this burgeoning burg.

The accidents and deaths caused by poor planning, like the disappearing lane going south on U.S. 395 from the Oddie Boulevard exit and like the still-unrepaired choke point at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Interstate 80, are collateral damage in the ongoing war on tranquility. We understand all that. Really, we’re fine with it.

What we don’t understand is why government allows road-construction companies to leave their crap lying around on the roads for weeks and months after the job is complete.

There are only about a thousand examples around town, but let’s pick one: Why were there orange barrels and cones on Oddie Boulevard a half-mile from where the most recent construction was happening on 395 for months after they needed to be there? Why are construction companies allowed to leave the weighted bases of orange pylons on the road, endangering the safety of every single person who drives by? It would take less than an hour to remove these implements. If the average citizen left tools or obsolete road signs or dropped fast-food cups on the highway, he or she would have police knocking on the door with citations within a day.

Even more frustrating for us taxpayers who pay bureaucrats’ salaries to ensure the roads are kept clear are the jobs that are left for weeks just a hair short of complete. For example, why are construction companies allowed to leave a couple dozen yards of two-inch-deep, unsurfaced asphalt on Interstate 80, heading toward California? Why are there miles of lane restrictions and no workers in sight when these jobs should have been completed weeks ago?

Our uncontrolled growth and the inevitable environmental crises that will eventually make this valley no longer worth inhabiting would be a lot easier to take if government and business would clean up their messes in a timely manner.

The one person who isn’t to blame for this mess is the person in the car next to you who’s just as irritated as you are and probably didn’t intentionally cut you off when the lane ended unexpectedly. Peace.