Sound Off: Highway work short on intelligence

While I’m sure there are many good hard-working men and women working on the roads on Whidbey Island, for the life of me, I’ll never understand why a more intelligent approach cannot be taken on coordination and planning. The recent mess south of Oak Harbor has me grinding my teeth about Whidbey road construction once again.

At some point, the state notified residents that curves would be straightened out in one location and hills would be lowered in another, all in the name of safety. Both locations are past, heading north on the main highway, the sign that proclaims, “Making Every Dollar Count” However, I can’t see that the curves have been straightened out to any appreciable degree. As far as the hills that were to be lowered, how much did they actually get lowered, one, two inches? Meanwhile we endure delays, bone-jarring and car-abusing pavement cuts, more delays, more diversions and chopped-up pavement, etc.

And speaking of state notices, many of us participated in a survey where something like two-thirds of us said we’d prefer a couple of weekend closures rather than having daytime delays and flaggers. So what happens after we’re told by the state that there will be a couple of weekend closures? The contractor apparently decides on its own to go ahead with the weekday delays, contrary to the wishes of the majority, and the state then permits the change!

As a result, we end up with weeks of broken pavements, jarring cut-offs, etc. And today the state sent out a notice that after days of rain, the final paving won’t take place until the spring, since the contractor can’t get enough clear weather to finish paving. Well, duh! Hey, maybe if the contractor had done what most of us wanted we wouldn’t still be waiting for the project to be finished.

I don’t know why things like this are allowed to happen. A few years ago, the main highway coming up out of Greenbank was widened. All but about 0.2 miles, that is. We endured weeks of delays, bad road, etc. The next summer what did we get? Right, the exact same hassles for the remaining 0.2 miles.

I think it’s time to put someone intelligent in charge of planning at the state level. I don’t know who is in charge at the state DOT that allows things like this to happen, but as someone who drives on this island on a regular basis, I’m sick of watching “every dollar” go to making life hard for drivers and cars here.

Tom Pacher lives in Coupeville.

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