I Can Understand the Confusion

4 02 2009

P-D:

Traffic sign hackers warn of zombies ahead

Madison County — A sign on Interstate 255 Tuesday warned motorists that the undead were ahead, causing double takes during the morning rush.

“Daily lane closures, due to zombies,” the sign said.

The Illinois Department believes a hacker with a cell phone and a password changed the electronic sign’s wording sometime late Monday night or early Tuesday. Shortly after construction crews corrected the sign, on the southbound side near Illinois Route 162, the message reverted back to the zombies warning.

I think I can help clear up some of the confusion.

Those things up ahead are not zombies, they’re really Illinois road construction workers.  I can certainly understand why some people think they really are zombies.

Interstate 64 in the Metro East was recently widened from two lanes in each direction to three lanes between Route 157 in Caseyville to Green Mount Road in O’Fallon.  Fairview Heights and O’Fallon are the high-growth urban sprawl areas of the Metro East, and you can probably guess why a lot of people want to move out of Belleville and places close to there.  They actually have been growing for a long time, mainly because a lot of people left East St. Louis for some strange reason.  Therefore, these new lanes were long overdue.

But the goofy part was that the project only added one lane in each direction for not even 7 miles, and, IIRC, all the surface roads on that stretch that cross I-64 go above the interstate on overpasses; there is not one bridge on the actual interstate over a road or a river.  So all they had to do was add pavement over relatively flat ground all the way, and that part that rises out of the river bottoms once you go east of Caseyville into Fairview.  And they put in soundwalls on both sides between 159 and the Lenin Trail, lest the people living in houses close to I-64 in that area might actually have to hear traffic, which they did all these years when that stretch was two lanes per side, big whoop.

That work took all of three years.  Not even 14 lane-miles of new pavement, no overpass widening to boot, and soundwalls for a few miles, took three years.  You know the construction crews had 24/7 work schedules, 24 hours a month, 7 months a year.

My only theory is that unions in Illinois are even stronger than they are in Missouri, and the state government in IL is even more pro-union than it is in MO, so the contractors and workers have every incentive to milk a road project out for as long as possible.  I’m pro-union mostly, but this is unconscionable.

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