From six directions, cars attempt to drive through the intersection at Conz and Pleasant streets in Northampton. It’s 88 degrees and the dirt kicked up by heavy machinery sticks to sweat, giving everyone a dirty looking tan. The Route 5 entryway to Paradise City is consumed by roundabout construction. A police officer with dark sunglasses and a neon vest, motions vehicles around a maze of orange cones and people in hardhats. He calls for traffic from the north to move south, and for the patient motorists in the gas station driveway to pull onto Pleasant Street. It creates gridlock. A tractor trailer straddles Route 5 and all eyes are on the officer.

“I really messed that up,” he quips stepping into another lane of traffic to help alleviate the jam.

Vehicles with their windows shut slowly pull through the rough gravel and rocks, their tires spitting small chunks of asphalt at the people working on the rotary. A car horn honks, but the officer pays the exclamation no mind. Keep moving; construction is slated to wrap before the snow starts to fall.

— Kristin Palpini,