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OPINION | DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Even if it isn't always obvious, orange barrels serve multiple purposes in work zones

by Frank Fellone | January 29, 2022 at 3:10 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: On the way back from Branson, driving south on U.S. 65 near Clinton, we encountered orange barrels that pushed us into a single lane even though the second lane appeared perfect. After 10 miles we came on three men working, but that was it. I've noticed that barrels restricting lanes seem to stay up for miles with no construction going on. Why? -- Bruce

Dear Bruce: David Nilles of the Arkansas Department of Transportation explained in three parts.

Part the first is that all state departments of transportation follow the same procedures as outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, including proper setting of cones or barrels in a work zone.

Part the second is that in a lengthy work zone, there will be times when it seems no work is being done. That could mean crews are in a different area of the work zone, or equipment is about to be brought in for a different stage of construction.

Part the third is that to pick up the barrels each day and put them back next morning would be extremely time-consuming. Leaving the barrels in place expedites completion of the project and means fewer unexpected traffic shifts for drivers.

Dear Mahatma: I sometimes see tents in the green space between Landers Road and Warden Road in North Little Rock, near the East McCain overpass. I guess this property belongs to the Highway Department. -- Local Yokel

Dear Local: This property does, indeed, belong to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, which said it does not allow anyone to camp on its right of way.

Dear Mahatma: I live in a cul-de-sac. People from all over the street park here, even if they live at the opposite end. I've talked to code enforcement, and they occasionally address the issue but the problem is never solved. I've learned that I, the inconvenienced party, can't put signage on the curb. What's a girl to do? -- Sincerely

Dear Sincere: We first recalled the wise traffic engineer who said if there's not a no-parking sign, park.

Then we approached this matter via one of the city's spokes-peoples and learned that, generally speaking, no parking signs are installed only where there is a safety matter. Such as to prevent parking too close to a crosswalk. Or on narrow streets where parking would impede traffic. Or when parking would prevent access by emergency vehicles. (Like maybe a cul-de-sac?)

These are all, to our abbreviated intellect, legitimate concerns. Unfortunately, what you have sounds like a nuisance.

Then we remembered something a different wise traffic engineer told us in reference to a speed bump installed on a street whose traffic volume and speed didn't merit a speed bump. Sometimes, he said, politics trumps engineering.

Why not make a call, send an email or write a letter to your city board member, with a copy to Little Rock's esteemed Mayor Frank Scott?

Keep us informed.

Vanity plate on a black Camaro: LEGS.

Print Headline: Work zone barrels par for course


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