RESOURCE - Cone Zone, Slow Down

Cone Zone LogoA product of the Work Zone Safety Alliance, the aim of this web site is to illustrate the danger traffic presents to workers on our highways and to educate drivers on how to safely navigate the "Cone Zone." It also contains information for the employers of these workers to assist them in their due diligence to provide a safe workplace. As illustrated in the article on Construction Zones, the seconds that you save by not slowing down will never be worth putting yourself and others in danger.



Cone zone is Vancouver

I think it's a good time to perhaps discuss the other side of the bargain.

Saving construction workers lives is necessary, cones are highly visible and internationally recognized symbols of construction work and people-hazard. It is not the greatest inconvenience to slow down in areas where work is progressing and people are in danger of coming in-contact with moving traffic; especially considering that these improvements are designed to save our collective time.


Cone Zones in Vancouver are unattended for 95% of their "life-time".
Lanes are blocked for no continual work - just occasional truck pulling onto the construction sites.
Highway 1 has been a construction "Cone Zone" for the past 4 years; but the aggregate of actual work taking place can be condensed into 3 months of 8 hours 5 days a week.

With all this in-mind, I find that most drivers are highly "desensitized" to Cone Zones in Vancouver - after all if no people are there - there is no danger of running them over. This cultivated a dangerous habit in drivers, but an even more dangerous habit in the construction companies.

Let's have some better guidelines and enforcement of the construction related signage and Cone Zones.
Fine the entities authorized to erect construction signs and barriers for every hour that the hazard signage is present with-out work happening. Fine for every sign (i.e. lane closure) left past it's effective meaning - if the lane is open, the sign needs to be covered or removed. (I know it's in the MVA - but I also see it breached regularly)

Some of the "near-road" construction projects close off entire arterial lanes for months at a time, although they use the blocked-off space quite sparingly. If the detrimental effects on traffic which are caused by these closures are not merited, charge the losses to the construction company.

Some highrises turn the roads around them into battlefields riddled with patches, potholes and construction junk - and although they do the final repaving once the project is finished - nobody is paying for my suspension mounts and gaskets I have to replace early because of nonconforming temporary pavement I drive over for 3 years during the construction. What's worse - is that the situation is merit-less - there is no benefit for the construction site - but tons of collateral damage to road users.

As a driver in Vancouver, I always drive on the edge of my seat trying to foresee what new barriers and obstructions have been erected for no apparent reason in my way; and it's always a jolly experience to crawl along on an arterial road only to find out that it was all for an abandoned work-site, especially during the rush hour.

If the construction companies expect compliance, and the Government wants to protect itself against expensive WorkSafe claims there needs to be a better picture of responsibility regarding the construction zones and hazard signage on the part of the construction companies. Drivers already display responsibility - when a cute flag girl is there holding (waving) slow down sign - drivers slow down; when there is a 60km/h "construction zone" limit and no construction in sight for days/weeks/months/years - it is just insulting.

If only all the flag girls were cute, eh?

Meanwhile, methinks that you do exaggerate to some degree.  Most cone zones are short term and well monitored; frankly, I have a problem with private contractors who create 'temporary' blockages with trucks etc in No Stopping zones who don't cone and control the situation with flagpersons.

With regard to potholes and dodgy road surfaces; it's been my experience that if a municipality has been informed of an issue, and tire/wheel damage occurs to a vehicle after the report has been received - but before they have addressed it - then they will accept responsibility for the cost of repairs.  It's also been my experience that where a construction company has created a hazard that has caused wheel/tire damage to a vehicle, then they will accept responsibility for the cost of repairs.  Perhaps this isn't the case with all municipalities or construction companies, but it certainly has been with the City of North Vancouver, the District of West Vancouver, and Kiewit Construction.

In fairness, I must acknowledge that when these agencies were rectifying the situation(s) and repairing the road surfaces, they did in fact put up cones and hold up traffic.  So unreasonable ...

You also have to keep in mind that an awful lot of maintenance and new construction has to be achieved in a few short summer months; much of it is dependent on dry weather.  So of course it goes on just when we have an influx of tourists, as well as locals taking vacation time, and the demand on the roadways to move traffic throughout the day can be inversely proportionate to the amount of lane closure and necessary traffic delays.

Plus which (that's probably not good english but I like the expression) there is a lot more going on than is obvious to the eye, if you would only realize it.  These are not just roads, and there are many agencies involved.  Where do the fresh water supply lines run?  Under the road.  Where does the storm drainage system go?  Under the road.  How about the sewer system, where does that crap go?  Uh huh, it's down there.  Do you recall driving eastbound over the old Port Mann bridge in the hammer lane, and noticing this continuous sawcut in the road surface?  Fibre optic cable got installed there.  Drive across the Second Narrows Bridge every day?  Ever notice that massive pipe hanging underneath?  That's Fortis' Natural Gas supply line to the North Shore - and beyond (when the Sea-to-Sky Highway underwent that massive renovation for the 2010 Olympics, they grabbed the opportunity to run gas all the way to Whistler).  There's undoubtedly other infrastructure involved that also runs invisibly under the roadways, but all of it potentially affected by construction at surface level, from digital cable to telephone to electricity (when they're not stringing visible wires from poles).

I learned something interesting recently just about my own general neighbourhood.  The District of North Vancouver had dropped off notices in the mailboxes of local residents to advise of upcoming asphalt resurfacing scheduled to take place along several blocks of Highland Boulevard, a local arterial.  As there's a major upcoming building project pending in the adjacent area (about a dozen old homes and a short street disappearing to accommodate a new 3-story Senior's Home) I wondered if they had factored in the probable destruction of the road surface from the inevitable cavalcade of dump trucks, concrete mixers, excavators, and so on; and whether they would be wise to delay their plans.  Their response was interesting and enlightening; for one thing, they had deliberately made their south cutoff point for the work at the boundary of the pending construction area.  This because the agreement with the developer was a 50/50 cost sharing of reconstruction and refurbishment on those blocks of Highland.  

So I asked why they didn't just delay the whole thing for a year or two, being as the road certainly looks OK.  The answer?  In 2015 the GVRD will be undergoing major pipe replacement along Capilano Road (the 'other' major arterial feed for this general area).  This is so that vast numbers of lower mainland residents can continue to enjoy their fresh water supply, much of which is stored behind Cleveland Dam in Capilano Lake.  However, due to closures on Capilano Road that are anticipated to significantly increase the traffic flow on Highland Boulevard, they have to increase the surface quality and density now in order to ensure that the roadway doesn't get destroyed by the overload expected in a year's time.

So what may seem obvious to the driver, frustrated by seemingly never ending construction projects that apparently could have been accomplished in half the time, is only a small part of the story.

Calm down, slow down, and smile at the Flag Girls.  I always do. cheeky

Court of public opinion

In this "day and age" it is a requirement to over-exaggerate your outrage on a public Internet forum.

Cause if your opinion is moderate it can will be ignored.

And certainly I can see and understand the inner workings of a systematic approach of planned construction; however said planning will continue to degrade (undermine previously accepted objectives) if we do not constantly call it out.
So I think construction should be avoided as much as possible during the rush hours.

Road closures should be minimized to give priority to passing traffic. Construction signs / cones should be installed and cleared wil higher expediency. Flag girls should be cuter.

(Can't let him have the last word!)

Bumper stickers should be issued. cool

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