Construction Woes

February 5, 2003

Several weeks back I asked a construction worker in the nearest truck what the “street hacking” was about. He said that the railroad line had to move over and that the company wanted it dealt with by Christmas. He expressed pretty serious reservations about whether it would be done by Santa’s visit. He needn’t have worried. The street (forthwith known as Shawville Gate) has been pounded into shape and it’s only the third week in November.

When the hubby and I bought our little condo in the middle of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere – we had to imagine the street and buildings) we were told that this was the first street after the latest approved C-Train stop. We dreamed of strolling to the end of the block on a fine summer day and boarding the train. Sitting on the train we’d read our latest pocket book from the newest branch of the library and get off downtown to eat at our favorite restaurant in the whole world! (Not like we’ve checked out every restaurant in the world, but:) Rose Garden Thai would serve up our favourite spring rolls, roast chicken and veggies for the hubby and my fried noodles, veggies and chicken. Perhaps we’d spring for more than our pot of green tea and go for a Mai Tai and Larry’s Long Island Iced Tea. Then we’d pay our bills, pat our bellies and board our train back home. Sigh. The dream awaits.

Construction was almost killed when our new mayor took over. Many lobbied to get the new stops re-approved and then back onto schedule. We in Shawnessy worried about our homes gaining quicker transit service. Our bus schedules are frustrating! We no sooner step out the door toward the end of the block when a bus zooms by. And running is useless. First, the stop is another half block down the street and second there’s another railway train heading down the track! We’ve been foiled again!

When leaving the site after our first visit to see the progress our new home was making, I saw was a sign for a bus. So, I stood at the stop and waited. And waited : Better than 3/4 of an hour later a bus loomed on the horizon. Okay it didn’t really loom:it more or less crept silently into sight. Baked, fried and ready for serving I stepped on the bus to go home with the results of my foray to the future home. My video camera showed a half constructed home, an unmarked building wrapped up in paper announcing to everyone for miles, TYVEK WRAP! Scaffolding was everywhere. I had crept down a hallway with a construction man’s boom box, well, booming. I finally found the penciled unit number in fine print on our entrance door. I had gone in and, nearly deaf from the saws and bulldozers, inspected what would go where as best as I could imagine it. The video shows plastic wrapped closet doors slapped up against our living room wall, concrete floors and spaces where appliances would soon, we hoped, be installed. I had made a few measurements of blank spaces and then left the dusty mess. The sun felt like a silent statement of promise for the future. It seemed to tell us to trust that the building would be finished. More recent construction has gone on throughout the winter and I’m glad I didn’t see our home in those grey, cold days.

Along the long ride home I wondered what it would be like to live in our building and new neighbourhood. I wondered about the new station and its conveniences.

Now I am wondering about the doohickeys that were used to move the tracks. They used machines I’ve never seen before. They seemed to be especially created just for the railroad industry. One big bruiser was riding the rails and depositing new gravel beside the track. The machine had a “tray” on its side to hold and slowly sift the gravel to the side of the track. Another machine appeared to be polishing the tracks! I don’t know :that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Do tracks need to be polished before use? Trucks full of workers oversaw the bobcat that plowed up the old timber that sat under the rails. Hmmm: I don’t remember seeing new timber under the rails. Is this old railroad building practice now?

The street remained closed almost a day longer than was announced and those of us on foot found it annoying. Almost every car in the city seemed to be surprised that Shawville Gate was closed! Don’t they watch signs? Of course they did find out soon enough, but then I watched some of the same vehicles return the next day?!

Now we have the tracks done and the street is opened. I don’t have to walk through the park “?n’ fly and past condos, parks and Canadian Tire to get to the Wal-Mart up the street. I can meander past the school, see the new tracks and check out the latest happenings at the library! Ahhhh civilization again.

Thank you Railroad workers:and now, please deliver our new C-Train stops just as promptly!

Laura Seymour first published herself, at age 8. She has since gone on to publish a cookbook for the medical condition of Candida. She is working toward her B.A. (Psyc).

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