Here we are… June, and like many of you I’ve now seen the three concrete signs that it’s summer in the UP–
The return of the tourists.
The return of the lilacs.
And the return of the OTHER official flower of the state of Michigan– the orange traffic cone.
Road projects and detours are popping up all around the UP, from Crystal Falls to Gwinn to Houghton.
In fact, that twice a decade ode to joy known as the repaving of US-41 from Marquette to Negaunee began Monday, which means that the busiest section of roadway in the entire Upper Peninsula will be down to one or two lanes until the end of October.
For those of you who have to make that drive every day, you have my deepest sympathy.
It can be irritating. It can be aggravating. And it can be very hard on your patience, especially if you’re running behind schedule or you like to treat a highway as if it’s your own personal NASCAR track.
But all the work is needed. U.P. winters are rough on roads. And think of the alternative– without the repair work, you could be driving on a road that look more like the surface of the moon.
So, while it’ll be a pain for those of you who drive, take a second to think about the people on the other side of those orange cones– road workers.
I saw a statistic that showed 97% of road workers say their job has become more dangerous in the past three years. Why? Those workers say it’s because drivers are digitally distracted– they’re looking at their phones instead of looking at the road, sometimes veering right into construction.
And in a collision between a 200-pound road worker and a 2,000 pound car, the laws of physics tell you who’ll come out in worse shape every single time, eyes off the phone and on the road work, okay?
The lilacs will soon die, the tourists will eventually go back home, and by the time the leaves change the orange cones will head back inside their local road commissions. But until then, they’re just a big part of our U.P. summer life.
Even if they’re not as welcome as the lilacs, or the tourists.