The Linebrook Road project is finally under way, which is a relief, because I was beginning to fear that my part of the $3 million we approved for it was being siphoned off into something else, like a feasibility study for a new beach sticker design. (I just made that up. As far as I know, there’s no plan for a new beach sticker design. Please don’t set up a new Facebook page defending the old beach sticker design.)
With the road work now actually happening, the Town of Ipswich has done the right thing by posting big flashing signs on either end of the construction zone, declaring very clearly (for all drivers who can read; I’m not suggesting whom this might leave out): “Expect Delays.” The lettering on these lighted signs is so big, in relation to the size of the sign itself, that it isn’t realistic for them to describe, at any level of specificity, everything else you should expect. But the fact is, as you approach the construction zone on Linebrook Road, there’s a lot more you should expect than delays. A lot more. A lot.
First, there’s an officer in a lime green vest, who will either motion you to “Come on, come on” or “Wait, whoa, stop, stay there.” If you’re lucky enough to get the “Wait, whoa, stop, stay there” signal, you have an opportunity to sit and ponder the DPW’s fashion decisions. Yes — definitely — you notice the lime green, and this is a good thing, because getting your attention is half the battle when they want you to stop your car before you plow into the front-end loader in the gully they’ve turned the right lane into. But really, lime green? It’s so Laugh-In. Maybe when these outfits finally wear out and it’s time to order new ones, they could go with something more fashionable, say a catchy zebra-stripe. Or sequins would be nice.
Once the fellows in lime wave you through, let me urge you to proceed slowly and carefully. Please. You are likely to be entering a one-lane passageway. It may feel like you’re the king of the road, with a man in a lime-green vest waving you through like a celebrity; but the reality is that the side-to-side space through which you must navigate this work zone is extremely narrow. They call it a one-lane road when in fact it’s something closer to eight-tenths of a lane (the same way Mile Lane is only eight-tenths of a mile long; it’s Ipswich math). Your situation is precarious. On one side of this claustrophobic crawl-through, you have somebody’s front lawn, or what’s left of it. On the other side, you have enormous yellowish-orange machines of varying sizes and functions, which you definitely do not want to challenge to a duel. Furthermore, while you’re driving through this hazardous tunnel of chaos, the enormous yellowish-orange machines are continuing to do their work. Great jaws are swinging to and fro, seeking whom they may devour. Huge wheels are rolling and grinding the earth beneath them. Chunks of New England are being pulverized before your very eyes.
You cannot be too careful. One day last week, I sneaked my tiny car through the one-lane channel like a large red snail, taking every possible precaution not to upset the complicated workings of the DPW, when suddenly a massive construction vehicle swung around into my path. It was a moment of panic for me, so I may not be remembering the details clearly, but as I recall it, this machine was something like a yellowish-orange metallic Tyrannosaurus Rex. It had a massive lower jaw, which could have easily scooped up my very small car and dumped it into the cavernous gorge it was digging along what used to be the curb. I could have been buried in rubble within seconds. I might have been reduced to texting my wife to come dig me out, and hoping she agreed to. I might have gone viral by posting my last words from my iPhone and becoming the legendary “Underground Tweeter.” Legendary, yes, but alas, dead.
So, the bottom line is, it’s not just “Expect Delays.” If they could make a sign big enough to tell you everything, it would say “Expect Delays, Be Patient, Man in Lime Green Will Get to You ASAP, Take Your Time, Prepare to Dodge T. Rex Jaws, No Shoulder, Driving on Neighbor’s Lawn is OK, In Fact, Necessary, Once You Emerge on the Other End of This Mess Please Don’t Spin Your Wheels and Kick Gravel into Man in Lime Green’s Pants Cuffs, Your Tax Dollars At Work, This Project 2% Completed, Enjoy Ipswich, Have a Nice Day.”
Doug Brendel lives on the street in question, and happily. Follow his life-in-Ipswich commentary by clicking “Follow” on this screen.