I was sitting in traffic on West Lake Houston Parkway recently (yes, really) and was wondering who makes the decisions about when and where the roads should be torn up ... I mean, repaired. In the area just south of FM 1960, repairs were being made in the right lane near Atascocita Middle School, causing a right lane closure. Then, just feet further was more work, causing a left lane closure. Apparently some sections of the street needed to be redone and someone decided drivers would be up to the challenge of changing lanes twice just prior to the already congested intersection – a little slalom on the way home from work. I was talking to my sister about this and we came up with many similar examples of roadwork “planning.” We decided that there must be a group of people who sit around a table, laden with drawings, diagrams, and all manner of schematic possibilities. Sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it? I think that the tedious nature of the business has prompted a kind of “passive rebellion” on the part of these planners. This group of people, the Strategic Obstacle Brainstormers – we’ll just call them S.O.B.s for simplicity’s sake – have decided to have some fun with us. I can hear them now: “What if we have them merge right but then we could also do the work on the eastbound portion of Blah Blah Road,” says the director of S.O.B. Operations. “Yes, wouldn’t that be a riot. They would all be in the right lane, which is right-turn only! And then they would all have to try to turn around to get to Idle Time Highway!” says the assistant director, almost in tears with the prospect. Then the chief engineer chimes in, after a long drag on his inhaler, “We could go one step further and synchronize that with the overhead signage repair work on Idle Time Highway. They would almost certainly have to take the Fork It Over Toll Road to avoid total gridlock.” The room erupts with glee. “That would be cost effective,” says S.O.B. bean counter R.U. Serious, without the slightest hint of a smile. Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s how they do it. So, next time you’re stuck in traffic and wondering why the sign says merge left, but not really, just keep those poor S.O.B.s in mind as they trudge through another project. They’re really bored ... and we must prove that we are up to the challenge.

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