Thursday, July 21, 2005

Europe 2005 - Construction

While road signs are pretty universal it seems once there is construction all that is out the window. Its funny to see all the ways that they get you to slowdown. A lot of places use a waving orange flag but the way they do it charges. In Switzerland they had a full size plastic mannequin with a mechanical arm dressed as the other construction workers just waving the little flag away. In France the mowing tractors had a little orange flag on the back that waved like a happy tail as the tractor drove along the side of the road. The people picking up trash in Italy had 2 men devoted to waving flags but I think that it was the easy job that you got if you were good because these 2 big burley guys dressed only in orange shorts and vests were dancing and waving those flags like a cheer squad as they walked with their co-workers. In Ireland and Great Britain there were a lot less freeways where we drove so most of roads we drove were 1 lane in each direction. With no emergency lanes there is nowhere to divert traffic so they use temporary stoplights. The first time we came across one I almost went after a while because we were in the middle of nowhere with no cars and it was stuck on red for so long. I thought that maybe I was only supposed to stop like a stop sign when a long line of cars came over the horizon. The narrow lanes also effects the machines they can use. It was amusing seeing a bulldozer that is the normal height of around 10 feet but only 4 feet wide.
So many of the roads we are driving are through mountains. To keep the grass from overgrowing the road there have been a lot of mowing tractors. They look like other construction tractors with the exception of having a robotic arm with what looks like a “Bic” shaver on the end that can be angled to whatever the slope. They look like they are just vacuuming off the hill.
City construction is everywhere. I remember from one of the travel shows that said to invest in a European scaffolding company since it is everywhere. The amusing part is that they print out on the cloth that wraps the scaffolding what the building looks like so as to not offend the tourists.

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