Saturday, April 20, 2013

Road Rage

I like to think I’m a pretty patient person (although some people might disagree, I suppose…). I’d argue that most people who've lived in Christchurch for the past few years are also pretty patient people...but there’s nothing like the reconstruction of city infrastructure to test my (our) patience. In this post I summarise my personal experiences and frustrations over the past few months the on-going improvements to the roads in Christchurch. I suspect pretty much everyone else in this city is also pretty irked by constant road works,  but this is just my wee story (rant).

Imagine a cacophony of house-shaking, ear-piercing, teeth-grinding noises right outside were you live, 6 days a week, from 7am until 5:30pm. It is indiscriminate - it doesn't care if you are on holiday, or are sick in bed; the aural disturbance goes on and on and on. For almost the last four months (it began about two weeks before Christmas, if I remember correctly) the council has been installing a new water pump station in (in - not on) our street. This has involved digging a large hole in the middle of the road (just outside the neighbour’s house) and then ramming enormous metal rods into the ground, then installing the pump station, and then removing the enormous metal rods, amongst a variety of other tasks of which I have very little understanding, and that require lots of huge machinery. Fortunately, there was a two week break over Christmas and New Year’s. Unfortunately, the break was only for two weeks. The noise doesn't even stop at night - a temporary pump hums away, removing any excess water from the ground and transferring it into the drains; I’ve slept with earplugs in most nights to ensure I actually get some sleep. Various other senses are also battered. At times, it looks like a bomb-site outside my gate (piles of dirt, dust blowing over everything). There is water flowing along the guttering, resulting in a bright rust-coloured stain along the edges of the road; this water smells faintly of sewerage (and we’ve seen the local stray drinking from it, which made me feel a bit retchy). Our street is temporarily out of action as a thoroughfare - we are required to drive around the back and via a very munted Drive to reach the main arterial road to anywhere- which wouldn’t be so bad except the cats now bound across the road with reckless abandon, forgetting that at some point cars will again frequent the street.

And then there’s driving to work. My route, pre 6.3, was a pleasant 20 minute drive across the local bridge crossing the Avon River, and along the northern motorway into west Christchurch. This year, the bridge was closed for repairs in the New Year, and will remain closed for 8 months. So, I’ve been taking the detour, the longer route, across another bridge further east, where motorists have been asked to “expect delays up until July 2013”. And then a couple of days ago, on my way home, as I attempted to turn right onto my new route, I realised the road was blocked off. So I detoured further east and along yet another bridge. And then I realised that the main arterial route to my house was also closed, so I had to take yet another detour. SO MANY DETOURS. Ugh.

My only other option right now, in order to get to and from work and home is to traipse it through the ‘city centre’, across to the Westside, and then back again in the afternoon. But traffic sucks so much in Chch right now that I don’t really know if that will be any quicker. And before anyone suggests I bike to work, let me just remind you that the roads are very munted, and very busy, it’s over 15kms to my work (excluding detours), I leave my house in the morning whilst it’s still dark and I'm neither skilled at nor interested in cycling (and even if I was I am an overworked teacher that does not have a moment to spare on frivolities such as exercise on the way to work). Neither is moving cities an option, obviously.  Thank goodness the school holidays have just arrived!! No more driving to work for two whole weeks! Oh. For a moment there, I forgot about the roadworks outside our house.

So, there we go. It’s not the end of the world, I know; it’s just another thing that tests my patience (mental health?). But infrastructure repairs must be done. We’ve been told the work outside our house will be complete in another two-ish weeks. And the road works across the city won’t go on forever…will they? So, I am hopeful that deadlines will be met, and normality will return soon...whatever that might be.

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