The road that healed itself

Every town and city has their traffic problems, and sometimes we wonder if any planning is actually done to see how traffic is suppose to flow. When you sit behind an endless line of parked cars on the freeway you and gaze at a sign that encourages you slow down for road construction, you wonder if this was someone’s idea of ill humour.

I’m going to pick on one road in my area. It is called the Anthony Henday Drive, also known as highway 216. This was supposed to be a freeway to move traffic quickly but someone forgot to tell the road engineers that.

This highway has traffic lights, bunches of them. For good measure they also erected speed limit signs. Some say 100 Kilometres/hr, others 70, some others 60 and a couple at 50. All of these in a few kilometres of road. In this sea of traffic signs they also warn of heavy fines for speeding through construction zones.

Cartoon by Malcolm Mayes, Edmonton Journal, 7-13-2011


 I have to say I’m impressed with the new construction idea the city has. You see they just leave road building equipment lying around but don’t bother with any workers. Apparently the city is using some form of magic to get the equipment to drive itself and convince the road to heal itself. Bloody brilliant. If it works maybe we can do without road planners too and have the roads design themselves too.

Now I understand that it came as a surprise to the planners that traffic lights might cause a problem with the flow of vehicles. Really, how would anyone know that a road with 34,550 vehicles per day, meeting with another road carrying 40,800 vehicles, would have an intersection problem? Fortunately some engineer discovered the word overpass and more construction began. I just hope the magic of self-healing roads goes a little faster.

I don’t want to pick on just my city (I didn’t want to say Edmonton and give the city a bad name) as I have also had the great experience of driving through Saskatchewan and their gravelled shoulders. However I took a photo at one of the signs in the town of Whitewood, Saskatchewan. Here we can see a sign warning of a school zone. First, there isn’t a school to be seen. Second, take a look at that road. Who in their right mind would want to even travel over it, let alone at a speed faster than a fast walk? There isn’t any need for a speed trap;  just check at the local car shop for broken shocks.

School zone in Whitewood

Back to the Henday. Below is a picture of the Anthony Henday Drive where they actually completed the intersection of overpasses and ramps. Maybe they should have done that with the whole freeway first rather than tease us with opening it with traffic lights. I remember when I used to work for Xerox as a service rep. We had a saying; “Do it right the first time”. I shall humbly pass the quote on to the city planners.   

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3 Responses to “The road that healed itself”

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  3. PJ DEAN says:

    Sounds very much like the efforts of my hometown (Philadelphia, PA)to “fix” the streets. Equipment sits out so you can see it but all the workers are chugging brews in the local bar.

    How do you pick your topics for the blog? I have one and am stumped to find anything to discuss. Writer’s block, I suppose. Good post, JH Wear.
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