The unpaved road is littered with heavy machines, dust is swirling past storefronts and a mountain of sand blocks the view of the downtown district.

So why is everyone smiling in the midst of summer reconstruction chaos?

This is upbeat Uxbridge, where, as posters in store windows declare, “living in a construction zone can be fun.”

Take those 45 tonnes of sand, for example. The mountain quickly became a molehill last week as families dug for prizes from merchants — everything from coupons for a free oil change or dental checkup to candy and toothbrushes.

It’s all part of the town’s sunny attitude toward the “Big Dig,” a four-month project by Durham Region to rebuild roads, sewers and sidewalks along 21/2 blocks of Brock Street W.

“We were determined to make the best of all this construction,” says Bev Leslie, chair of the Business Improvement Area. “We said, ‘Let’s grab this and run with it, turn it into a positive thing.’”

Cyndi Fagan’s three youngsters waste no time digging into the largest sand pile they’ve ever seen.

“I love this. Events like this make it easier to handle the road closure,” says the Brampton transplant. “Uxbridge has much more of a community feel than anywhere I’ve lived.”

Leslie even created a mascot from construction materials that she named Sammy Sewer.

The construction workers, who take time to explain to pedestrians what they’re doing, are “just a great group of guys. It doesn’t matter what we do, they want to be part of it,” says Leslie.

Facing a tight deadline of Nov. 1, Ronald Robinson, of contractor Ron Robinson Ltd., says they’re now two or three weeks ahead of schedule because businesses agreed to have the road closed for two blocks at the same time.

“You don’t get that (co-operation) very often. It’s usually more the negative.”