People often joke that Michigan has two seasons: winter and roadwork. Summer months in Michigan mean time spent on lakes, late-night bonfires, baseball games and, yes, an increase in construction.
While everyone in the Midwest has grown accustomed to grumbling when they see new signs indicating road work ahead, lane closures or detours, it is important to take a step back before cursing every orange barrel and remembering exactly why the work is being done.
Whether it is routine road maintenance, entirely rebuilding a roadway, or updating underground infrastructure that requires rerouting traffic, construction work is a necessary part of life. While additional time added to your morning commute can be extremely frustrating, construction work is actually good news. Roads, buildings and infrastructure need updating if they are to stay safe and efficient for public use.
Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you find yourself frustrated by construction.
There is a reason roads are updated, and often it’s to improve safety for travelers. Whether it is simply filling in potholes, shifting lane layouts so there isn’t a dangerous blind spot, updating bridges and overpasses, or adding in a new traffic signal, all construction serves a purpose. While it may be a pain at the time, remember that road updates can save lives.
The same goes for buildings. Making safety updates to buildings — such as a new elevator, improved egress, or replacing damaged walkways — may temporarily reroute traffic, but it is ultimately for the greater good.
When a busy highway is narrowed down to one lane, keep in mind that construction work may be underway in order to improve efficiency in the long run. Reconfiguring an exit ramp, lane-widening projects, or even less extensive resurfacing projects will make for a smoother ride in the future, both literally and figuratively.
If you’re struggling to find parking in a busy part of town because it seems as though buildings are popping up on every corner, remember this could signify a time of increased economic development for your community. Opening new businesses or updating existing buildings are positive events.
Grand Rapids has dealt with a lot of downtown construction within the last couple years, but it’s to make way for new hotels, city centers, restaurants, retail, offices and more. Although it is hard to look past the cranes and orange barrels, remember the great projects that are in the works and what their completion will mean for the local community.
Construction workers are doing their job
Just like everyone else, construction workers have a job to do. A career in construction means early hours, working in the elements and sometimes putting your safety at risk in order to get the job done. You’ve probably noticed signs that say things like, “injure or kill a worker — $7,500 + 15 years,” and there’s a reason they exist. It can be dangerous work.
Next time you’re tempted to speed thorough a construction zone because of the frustration of added traffic, remember that construction workers are people with families and lives of their own. They want to get the job done safely, both for you and for their own sake.
Summer construction always will be a trend in Michigan, but if you shift your mindset and try to see the positive in the work being done, your commute will be much more pleasant. Embrace the change.