Ode on the road: Edmonton man pens poem for errant highway sign

Confusion and concern for traffic safety has driven an Edmonton man to write a poem about a seemingly abandoned sign on Highway 2.

Twice a day, as he drives between his Edmonton home and his framing shop in Leduc, Ukrainetz passes three conjoined signs sitting in a grassy median near Highway 19. 

The signs refer to nearby Exit 525 and warn of a disappearing lane, but instead of directing southbound drivers from overhead, they face east. 

The support posts on either side of the southbound lanes have stood bare for so many months, Ukrainetz started to wonder if someone had forgotten about them.

“How could you forget about something like this?” he told CBC News on Tuesday. “It’s not like you left a quarter in another pair of pants. It actually makes no sense at all to me.” 

The self-professed poet laureate of Blackmud Creek finished his poem about the enigma Saturday.

“Our Alberta Highway Sign,” dedicated to the gophers along that stretch of Highway 2, asks more questions than it answers.

One stanza reads, “Driving by it every morning/As I sip from coffee cup/Did they just forget about it?/Is the budget all dried up?” 
Watch Garth Ukrainetz read his full poem near the sign that inspired it:

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Sign of the times

Beyond telling the story of the misplaced sign, the poem also captures current political frustration in western Canada, Ukrainetz said.

It hints at the tension between provinces — “In Toronto people giggle/Laughs in Montreal, Quebec.”

The phrase “what direction are we going?” repeats near the end of each stanza. 

“It’s more than just a poem about a sign,” he said.

What explains the sign’s location?

According to Alberta Transportation, the sign was moved ahead of girder repairs on the nearby Highway 19 overpass.

During the repairs, oversize loads had to be diverted to a crossing on Highway 2, press secretary Brooklyn Elhard wrote in an email. 

“Due to height restrictions, the large overhead sign had to be taken down to accommodate the oversize loads,” Elhard said.

The repairs are complete and the overhead sign will be reinstalled soon, she said.

Ukrainetz isn’t convinced as work on the overpass ended some time ago.

“I think they forgot about it, if you ask me,” he said.

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