In Minnesota we have two seasons, winter and road construction. The orange cones and barrels are popping up everywhere. The were up before the crocuses.(More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

I drove from my son’s house northeast of St. Paul to my sister’s house far south of Minneapolis during rush hour on Friday. This is usually a 25 minute trip if driven not at rush hour. Friday it was an hour and 40 minutes. On Minnesota Public Radio while I was driving, there was an update on the attempt to come up with a long term funding plan for road construction. The house is controlled by Republicans while the senate and the governor are Democratic. I was looking around and hoping that someone had a plan for all this construction. I was also most grateful that developing the plan was not my responsibility.

When I arrived at my sister’s she asked how I was. My reply, “Well if I had a dollar for every orange cone and barrel that I passed, I be rich.”

I found myself suddenly sympathetic with the challenges faced by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MDOT). Everyone it seems is complaining about the multitude of construction projects, the detours and road closures. Of course when the I35 bridge collapsed, people were wondering why that happened. MDOT cannot win. Two bridges are being upgraded near my son’s. I have to plan ahead about where to get on the freeway and the alternate routes are all jammed up even in mid-afternoon.

Part of the governor’s plea during the MPR spot was to preserve funding for light rail. He said, paraphrasing, “If we don’t come up with alternatives to cars you won’t believe the gridlock we’ll have in 20 years.” I was stuck in the gridlock as I was listening and wondering how much worse it could get.

Some say we judge our local elected officials on their ability to fill the potholes. I get that but it does seem unfair. We have this massive network of roads and bridges and obviously we can’t just shut the whole thing down for a month or a summer and get caught up.

I started fantasizing about renting out space on the orange barrels for advertising. What if, stuck in gridlock you could look down the row of barrels and see a long line of Hillary arrows? What if you could see lots of Target, BestBuy or 3M logos? What if there were sequential messages like the old Burma Shave road side rhymes? Would the idea that you are already stuck in traffic make you think poorly of the advertisers as in guilt by association? Distraction while driving is an issue but while sitting still it might be a good thing.

Anyway, my thanks go out to all the MDOT planners and workers who are trying their best to keep our roads and bridges safe and up-to-date.