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'Winter is coming' – but road work woes are here now

Spring is in the air. That means warmer weather, green trees and flowers blooming everywhere.

But spring flowers aren’t the only thing popping up around the Greater Lehigh Valley, so are less welcome signs of spring – road work signs.

Whether they say “construction ahead – merge right,” “speed reduced” or the dreaded “road closed,” all mean the same thing. It’s going to take you longer to get to work this morning.

The region is full of commute-killing road construction projects from the Route 22 widening slowing travel along the Allentown to Easton corridor to the Penn Street Bridge replacement in Reading and West Reading, which will be bogging down Berks county motorists through 2019.

It’s the worst, right?

Well, isn’t it?

It depends, being in a region such as the Greater Lehigh Valley where we have the pleasure of all four seasons, construction projects that run through the warm spring and summer months have their cold weather cousin – snowbound and icy roads.

When traffic isn’t slowed by construction, chances are it’s being hobbled by patches of ice causing slips and slides or mounds of snow narrowing lanes of travel.

We just can’t win, can we?

But which is worse, being stuck in a snow squall or being stuck in a construction jam?

It depends on who you ask, and ask I did.

I polled area professionals about which is the worst kick in the commute, snow or construction, and a lot of people had a lot of different opinions.

Here are some of them:

Suzan French Gennace, a public relations specialist, responded on LinkedIn. She said winter, because construction is more predictable.

“With snow and ice delays, you inevitably have road warriors who think they and their vehicles are invincible, plow through as if the snow was a pile of cotton balls, then crash 3 miles down the road (causing more congestion),” she said.

Also on Linked, Alen Beljiin, who works in corporate communications, said he knows all about the perils of commuting.

“I commute from Limerick Township in Montgomery County to Penske’s headquarters in Green Hills,” Berks County, he said. But because he’s used to a long time behind the wheel, he takes it more in stride.

“I consider both to just be par for the course when commuting daily by car,” he said.

On Facebook, human resources professional Tina Daroff Hamilton called out road work.

“Construction because you usually do not expect it and it never comes when you have time for it and always when you are in a rush,” she said.

Amy Brookman Rupp, a project manager, agreed. She said at least you know when a storm is coming.

“Snow and ice, you expect, and it is typically limited to just that day or it is bad enough that you planned ahead and will work from home that day,” she said.

But others had good points about traffic troubles

Stephen Peters, a computer programmer, said both can be frustrating – however, “ ‘working’ on the roads is something that has to be done if we’re going to have roads.”

And Mike Drabenstott, a marketing specialist, was quick to point out there are modern-day options for people facing delays.

“Neither is as bad now that Google tells me where the traffic problems are and the best route to avoid them,” he noted.

A poll I conducted on Twitter seems to come up with a winner for the “worst.”

Sixty-seven percent of those who responded said winter weather is worse than road construction season.

So if you’re stuck in a bumper-to-bumper detour, take it as some consolation that you won’t have to worry about slipping on ice.

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