The Issue: About $18 million in road construction will spread across the 5-county area this summer — and that’s just MDOT work.
Our View: Navigating the double-whammy of tourist and construction traffic requires special survival skills.
Part of being a Michigander is showing where we live on our hand-map. Also telling the joke about our state’s four seasons: fall, winter, spring and construction.
But there won’t be much har-har in the car this year as we’re likely to hit traffic backups on many of our area’s main arteries. We, like many other communities who attract large throngs of summer tourists, are double-blessed with more cars at the same time there are fewer lanes on which to drive them.
We understand the reason for the season — our roads need the TLC and our weather (see previous joke) means we have limited time to fix everything that’s broken. But rationally knowing that it’s needed, and being trapped inside a hot, unmoving traffic jam when you’re late for something, your kid is whelping for a bathroom and your gas gauge is teetering on “e” is another thing entirely.
We offer these survival tips.
- Have back ways for your back ways. With the Eighth Street closure and construction on US 31, you may need to stretch your creative wings to “go around” the traffic. Then again, if your shortcut involves 14 turns and 36 stop signs, you must ask yourself if you are saving time or, if you have instead taken an impromptu home and garden tour.
- Keep nothing in your car that can’t withstand 500 degrees. Real doozies of a traffic jam may force you to conserve energy by turning off the air conditioning and rolling down the windows. Given that pavement is hot in the summer — without the crowd of cars packed together bumper-to-bumper, heavy equipment and hot asphalt — clear your console of objects that melt and explode under pressure. Unfortunately, experience is the best teacher on what these items are, but they certainly include gum, mints, candy, lipstick, chapstick and crayons. Also, metal embellishments on clothing and accessories become branding irons. On the upside, those apple juice boxes forgotten under the seat are now an adult beverage.
- Prepare a Pompeii-themed survival kit. Water (in a melt-proof vessel). Sunscreen. Dust mask. Food that won’t stick to its wrappers.
- Make your plight work for you. Didn’t you always say that you wanted to speak French in your spare time? Learn the art of Zen gardening? When else (besides the doctor’s office, repair shop) will you have so much time with nothing to do and nowhere to go? It could be a very self-edifying summer.
- If that fails, go into emergency spa mode. Your car can be a pressure cooker in construction and tourist traffic; know where your relief valves are. Deploy emergency Metallica or Gregorian monk chanting, whatever works for you.
Then again, this may be the summer to air up those bike tires and give your work commute a try.