Daytime, nighttime…any time at all


By Al Vinikour   

Where is it written that road construction is a daylight-only ritual? With few exceptions this type of work is performed from just prior to morning rush hour…to just after evening rush hour and all times in-between.

It seems that whenever major road projects are announced — such as rebuilding a section of an interstate highway for maybe a four-mile stretch, the estimated time for completion is generally a year or two away. Forget about the poor drivers who either have to leave much earlier than normal to make it to work on time or arrive home long after dinnertime because of the mass delays.

What about the roadside businesses who suffer tremendous financial losses if not complete oblivion because of the difficulty of anyone getting to them?

There are obvious answers to all these questions and the common threads are the gutless, nutless and senseless local, state and federal officials who are so far into the pockets of unions and construction companies they need an oxygen tank to breathe fresh air. (Full discloser: I’m not anti-union, I’m anti-featherbedding.)

There is no reason major road construction can’t be a 24-hour per day process. Everyone would win in that scenario. There could be two 12-hour shifts — a minimum of four-hours per day overtime for everyone. Even someone whose math skills are barely beyond 2+2=4 could deduce that at a minimum the project would be completed in half the time.

Construction companies — generally owned by large donors and/or family members of those who issue contracts — are usually paid large bonuses for early completion of major construction projects. I can’t believe that even with thousands upon thousands of hours of overtime a contract couldn’t be agreed to that wouldn’t reward a company beyond handsomely for quick — and more importantly, competent completion of a program. More people would be employed at higher-paying jobs and an even better incentive would be more major projects that need attention. High employment figures and job security would be the order of the day.

Don’t try to give me that crap that road construction becomes harder to accomplish in the dark. There is arc-lighting available that would blind a pizza maker on the planet Remulak. Some states have mandated night-time road construction. Good for them! Oh, sure, you’re always going to have an element that will bitch to high heaven that because of the constant road construction they can’t sleep, their chickens and goats won’t copulate and the cowhands have all become gay.

By working round the clock the project would be done that much quicker — and if the inspectors
do what they’re being bribed not to do, more construction work wouldn’t be needed during the lifetime of those originally inconvenienced.

Additionally, for those who would rather read a copy of Sunset instead of Playboy, the pollution caused by extended months and years of construction and resultant traffic jams (not to mention the countless hours of lost productivity) would be as minimized as possible because of fewer hours of congestion.

Finally, let’s touch on accountability. How many times have you had to suffer through one or more years of a construction project, only to realize a few years later it was a crap job and you’re back to where you were three years ago. Does the contractor ever have to make good on these things? Seldom — especially if the company is owned by the father-in-law of the mayor or county official. If you bought a major-purchase item like a house…and it wasn’t done’d sure as hell demand the warranty ensures the job be done right — no matter how long it took. That’s what you paid for. However, many politicians view public works projects as money in their reelection bank.

Enough!!! Yes, I’d love to see those held accountable for shoddy workmanship. Maybe the first time it could be a tattoo on the forehead (like the “A” for adulterer” of yore), with an “I” for incompetent. For each successive failure there would be the loss of a digit of choice. After the loss of all 10 fingers a construction worker’s resume is displayed on his hands and the prospects of being hired would be slim.

Unless an enemy of the United States unleashes the “big one” we have a work plate of 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week for fifty-two weeks per year. On the other side of the coin we have an infinite number of construction jobs that need doing so we can maintain our infrastructure. This country was built on common sense…and it can be rebuilt using the same.

Americans didn’t send a man to the moon by the end of the decade of the ‘60s by only working the day shift.