If you drive, take mass transit of any kind, or depend even use the roads to cycle, you have an opinion on road construction. The dreaded orange (sometimes red) and white detour signs and cones adorn Iowa roads all spring, summer, and much of fall. Well, so do I.

For me and for that matter, for my opinion piece, I will start by reminding you that I drive about two hours a day. I drive from Cedar Falls to Cedar Rapids, and back.

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This summer in downtown Cedar Rapids, where our studios are, there's been a ton - and I mean a ton of roadwork. That's a pain for the area businesses and certainly their customers. For me, and since this is an opinion piece, it was a minor inconvenience.


Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash
Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

Before I share my thoughts on what has been a busy summer of cones and construction, I'll share with you the project that inspired this. My route is I-380 all the way until I hit downtown Cedar Rapids/Waterloo - depending on if I'm going to work or coming home.

Upon entering I-380 from Evansdale, a huge majority of the spring and then summer, there was a project that brought the interstate down from two lanes heading south to one. Now for me, this is the start of the journey to work. So naturally, I hated this construction project.

"I'm always stuck behind a semi!" This is what I'd holler as I went from going 76 MPH, erm, um, exactly 70 MPH down to around 55 MPH, the new work zone speed limit. The construction slogged on for what felt like forever. I absolutely dreaded hitting this every day. Luckily, it only impacted by drive to work, not from.

A portion of the stretch that was under construction - this was taken in July of this year, shortly before construction began, (Via Google)
A portion of the stretch that was under construction - this was taken by the Google Maps vehicle in July of this year, shortly before construction began, (Via Google)

Like many projects, when they go on for long enough, you forget how bad the road(s) were before the project began. With these highway projects, you see endless cones, but very few actual workers. You have to question, I know I did, the sanity behind narrowing a 10+ stretch of road to one lane when there's no one working!

Of course, this is an outsider’s perspective. They were working. No, not at 5:30 am when I was driving by. But they were working. Smoothing and repaving the road. They'd close a lane, then reopen it and close the other. And as I said, I despised it. I would constantly question, "is this worth it?!"

The project is now complete. It's done, it's over.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

And... I was wrong. It was worth it. The road is smooth. It's easy on the tires. I can again go 76... 70 MPH without worrying about my coffee bouncing around everywhere.

I also chatted with coworkers who have to drive through the I-380/I-80 construction every day. They made this issue sound like small potatoes.

Not sure I'd have the same opinion if I had to deal with that every day. For my travels, I appreciate the upgrade.

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