I thought about it all too often.
Just strap me in behind the wheel
and bury me with my automobile.
Damn this traffic jam, how I hate to be late,
it hurts my motor to go so slow.
Damn this traffic jam, time I get home my supper’ll be cold,
damn this traffic jam. Damn.
James Taylor, “Traffic Jam”
Driving through Wilmington the past three months has been about as difficult as it can be. That’s in large part due to the ongoing repaving project along Route 9. The roadwork has been a constant source of long delays and longer lines of traffic waiting to pass through the village.
The work has made a simple run to the post office, bank or gas station an expedition that rivals climbing Everest. Drivers often plan elaborate routes that will take them around the road work and backups, sacrificing additional miles for some time savings by avoiding the village traffic snarl.
We can’t help wonder how much longer this will be going on. What was supposed to be a six-week or so run has stretched out to double that time, and it seems like an eternity. As the time line has stretched, nerves among some drivers have frayed like an elastic band nearing its breaking point. Hopefully no one snaps too badly, but we know for a fact there are plenty of frustrated drivers along our major roads of Route 9 and Route 100.
Look, we get it. We understand work must get done. But it seems to be dragging on and on with no real end in sight. One thing is for certain, the seemingly slow pace of work can’t be blamed on the weather. The months of August and September were unusually dry for this area, which meant good weather for working and paving. So that can’t be the reason.
So what to do at this late point in the project? For the immediate work, probably not much short of just getting it done. The latest update, posted on the town of Wilmington website, says the project should be done on Friday, October 13. All we can say is we sincerely hope so, but we’re also not going to hold our breath waiting for that to happen.
Another issue we haven’t begun to discuss is why the state chose to do a relatively unscathed portion of Route 9, while parts of Route 100 between Wilmington and West Dover villages resemble a bombed-out Ho Chi Minh trail more than a modern macadam highway. It’s disgraceful to visitors and locals alike, and it appears that work will not be done for another three years.
But in the future, not just for Wilmington but for all towns around the state, it would seem that the gap between planning and execution needs to be narrowed. We know that the state was trying to have the least impact possible on the village, yet it seems like just the opposite actually occurred and the work has gone on and on ad nauseum.
We encourage local officials to learn from this summer of blacktop. Be vocal with state officials, work through the worst case scenarios, and build plans from them. Also, don’t be afraid to point out that sometimes the state’s priorities in paving need modifications. The seeming indifference toward the state of disrepair of Route 100 certainly points that out.
No doubt planning for major road projects is an inexact science, to say the least, and what seems like a good idea five years prior might not look like the best course of action when the time actually arrives.
But in the current situation, it would seem that someone needs to pay attention to what happened here so it is not repeated again. Too many people are getting home to cold suppers.