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Good Cop Bad Cop

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Good Cop: Construction in Fort McMurray

We’ve all been there. It’s 6:37 a.m., and you’re headed down Confederation Way for another day at work. In most cities, this would be smooth sailing. A no-brainer. Done deal.

Fort McMurray isn’t a regular city, though. That’s right. It’s down to one lane because of construction, and if you haven’t spent much time in Eagle Ridge, you’re about to get to know it pretty well.

Look, we’ve all been frustrated over construction in Fort McMurray. It can bring our commute to a grinding halt at the best of times. That said, I ask you to focus on the first sentence of the second paragraph: Fort McMurray isn’t a regular city.

Construction is a sign of progress, and it creates jobs. It means our city is growing, or at the very least, that there is opportunity abound. At a time when many cities are squeezing every penny (and have been for years on end), we’re deciding how best to spend, and how best to build. Nice “problem” to have.

So next time you’re stuck in traffic or are bothered by the noise of construction, remember why you came to Fort McMurray in the first place: because it isn’t a regular city. The only way we’re going to build the world class city that the community deserves is by actually doing it, which takes time, patience, and a whole lot of hard work by the people that aren’t nice and warm in their trucks.

We’d all love to be in a situation where construction wouldn’t affect our daily lives, but you know what? That’s hardly realistic. As someone who grew up in a one-industry small town in Nova Scotia that saw its prosperity fade away with the global economy, I’m thankful we’re in a position that forces me to slow down every now and then – as we grow.

Bad Cop: Construction in Fort McMurray

We’ve all been there. It’s 7:15 a.m., you’re headed down Thickwood Boulevard for another day at work. In most cities, this would be smooth sailing, except for during construction. Construction anywhere isn’t a walk in the park, but Fort McMurray’s construction season, a.k.a. 24/7/365, comes with some extra headaches. It’s the sort of thing that makes you want to pass on shoulders, not let people merge, and blare your horn while shaking your finger at the brass balls swaying off the truck in front of you.

I may be biased for being from an eastern province where a bridge gets built in a summer, not in three years, and highway line painting isn’t done using sidewalk chalk, but projects take so much longer here than they should. Yes, Fort McMurray is a city of growth with a necessary need for reshaping, rezoning, and repaving galore, but half the headaches are from projects that are getting needlessly drawn out as a “make-work” program.

We’ve all been stuck in traffic. But it’s not just the morning rush or afternoon drive home that can find you idling on 63. I’ve never been in a city where a 10 p.m. traffic jam is a semi-regular occurrence.

Can someone tell me why this fall, construction was necessary on a brand new bridge that’s less than a year old? Maybe it’s the same reason that the even newer Thickwood overpass needed to be repaved in sections after only a few months. And how many years in a row has Franklin Avenue been torn up and repaved in the same sections?

I respect the hell out of the construction workers that brave the elements and put up with idiots who take chances that endanger everyone, but their marching orders are what I question. If Fort McMurray wasn’t poorly laid out in the beginning, we would have avoided half of the issues we currently endure. But we do have a unique situation here -- all the more reason to not over-complicate things with unnecessary procedure. We have heated bus shelters but can’t put lines on the “amusement park ride” that is northbound 63 between Thickwood and Confed? Come on.

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