My wife is a member of the local Facebook page. Few days go by when she doesn’t read about the problems of driving in and out of Tooele Valley on state Route 36. I drive it myself nine months out of the year. It’s terrible no matter how you look at it.
For the past seven years, I have worked through a temporary service as a certified flagger for the Utah Department of Transportation. Ya, I’m the guy with the orange vest and stop sign that’s standing on the side of the road who seems to be in your way when you need to get somewhere.
In a normal day, I see a couple hundred to thousands of cars pass by me. Maybe that’s why traffic out here doesn’t really bother me; I know it could always be worse.
I worked in Grantsville recently. It reminded me how there’s little difference between working there, Tooele, Salt Lake, Lehi or Eagle Mountain. People are just as distracted, rude and obnoxious as any other area. Except for Kimball Junction/Park City. Now there’s where people over excel at being rude.
With summer right around the corner, you can expect a lot of roadwork, utilities work and flaggers in your way. Here’s the first thing you need to know about us: You may think we have no recourse when you ignore our signals or are vocally abusive — but we do.
Flagging/traffic control work is backed up by laws. If we’re standing on the side of the road wearing an orange vest and holding our stop sign, we have the legal right to stop traffic (for up to 15 minutes), and redirect you as laid out by the contractor’s foreman.
If you run our stop sign, we can jot down your license plate number and turn it over to the contractor, who turns it over to the local police. They then write you a ticket for running a stop sign in a construction zone. And remember: Fines are doubled for all moving violations in a construction zone. I’ve done this myself. I know the system works.
As I said before, while flagging I see a lot of cars in the course of a 10-hour work day. As you pass, we flaggers can see inside your car as well. We can see you eating lunch. We can see you arguing. We can see you trying to drive with your hands full, trying to fix your make up or comb your hair in the rear-view mirror. And of course, The Biggie: eyes on your mobile phone and not on the traffic ahead or the people outside around you.
With just a couple of simple moves, you can make your everyday commute less stressful, whether it’s on SR-36, Interstate 80, Interstate 15 or residential streets. Be courteous. Use your turn signals, especially in construction zones. Flaggers will try and help if they know which way you want to go. Pay attention to your driving. You can’t control the guy next to you. Eat your lunch, straighten yourself up, or read something you need to before driving your vehicle. And put down your phone!
Louis Duquette lives in Tooele and refers to himself as a “MAGA Deplorable.”