empty road

Road Repairs: Why Do They Take So Long?

Road repairs cause so much traffic and they seem to last longer than they should. Some of the underlying factors that cause road works to sometimes slow down are reasonable, and knowing them might just calm your mind when you’re stuck in traffic.

Loopholes in Work Scheduling

Working all day and all night will vastly speed up road repairs and construction — but the government (both local and national) won’t choose that option. Overtime pay and differential pay can increase the cost of a project significantly. Governments have budgets and they would rather have a few extra days of traffic rather than shell out more than they have to. Extended work hours are only reserved for emergencies or when the safety of motorists is at risk.

Haste Makes Waste

Shoddy construction will only lead to more problems and perhaps cancelled contracts. Road workers have strict timetables and going faster is almost never an option. Going slow ensures that the quality of work remains high, ensuring fewer future repairs and client (in this case the government) satisfaction. Road crews often have to wait for inspectors and experts to come and evaluate the work before proceeding to the next stages. Sometimes, these personnel are unavailable or in another site, which is when you see the crew standing and just doing nothing.

Limited Space

Road repairs are usually done one lane at a time. This limits the space of road repair crews and adds a little risk to the project. Limited working space also means heavy equipment can’t stay on-site for too long. Large machinery can disrupt traffic even more and make extended trips between the base and repair site inevitable. Construction companies need to schedule the use of heavy equipment at precise times or stages and then remove them from the site.

Sometimes, It’s Not Just the Road

driving a car

Roads aren’t just concrete paths. Underneath them are sewer systems, power lines, gas lines, and fiber optic cables. Installing and repairing even one of these underground systems will require the expertise of two separate crews. The road crew will need to dig deep into the concrete to reach a broken gas line or severed cable. After repairs are done, debris needs to be compacted with a trench rammer or a vibrating plate/roller; otherwise, the gaps and air pockets in the debris can compromise the concrete poured over it.

Weather Problems

Rain and snow can be the primary causes of delay during the rainy and winter season. Cold and moisture can significantly affect roadside repair schedules. Most crews will delay a task to make sure it doesn’t get ruined by a sudden pouring of rain; progress can halt if the higher-ups decide that the weather isn’t suitable. Cleaning up after a storm is additional labor and most companies prefer avoiding extra work by staying on the safe side.

The next time you see a construction crew repairing roads — give them a wave and smile. It’s not their fault things are taking too long; there are many other factors involved.

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