If you can't decide which is worse, winter weather that, like an uninvited party guest, doesn't know when to leave or spring road construction that, like that same uninvited party guest, always seems to be in the way, today is not your day.
A "strong spring snowstorm" is in the forecast beginning today, packing as much as a foot or more of snow for some of us in the Northland. Yes, "It snows in April nearly every year," as the News Tribune reported earlier this week, and yes, we "can handle this." But that doesn't mean we have to be anymore thrilled about it than a kid cleaning her room.
How many of us already put away our snow shovels? How many already rolled out grills?
A sizable snowstorm - the National Weather Service used the words "blizzard" and "heavy accumulations" in laying out its "potential" - just seems so cruel after temperatures have hit 60 this year.
Compounding the crush to our psyched-for-spring psyche is that today also has been designated "Go Orange Day," a part of National Work Zone Awareness Week. The Minnesota Department of Transportation actually is encouraging us to dress like a construction cone today.
Gimmicks and resulting eye rolls aside, safety in highway construction zones is serious business. In the U.S., a work-zone crash occurs once every 5.4 minutes, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Every day on average, 70 work-zone crashes result in injuries. Every week, 12 work-zone crashes result in a fatality. In Minnesota, there were 31 fatalities and 123 serious injuries in work zones in the last three years, according to MnDOT.
"Drivers and passengers are more likely to be killed in work zones than workers, but maintenance and construction crew workers have also lost their lives, been injured or had close calls," Brian Sorenson, state traffic engineer for MnDOT, said in a statement this week. "Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work-zone crash. Most of these crashes occur because of driver inattention and speeding, both behaviors we can change."
Appropriately, the theme for National Work Zone Awareness Week is "Drive Like You Work Here." That means, when entering a work zone, obeying the posted speed limit, which likely will be a bit slower than what you were traveling; paying attention to signs and flaggers; being patient; and focusing on driving, as Sorenson urged.
If you find yourself losing patience in a work zone this summer, remind yourself that the construction being done is to make travel safer, with fewer potholes to cuss. If that doesn't work, at least it shouldn't be snowing anymore.