Thursday, January 13, 2011

Road Repair

One day last week, I was heading into town to get my daughter to school. Further up the road, I could see flashing lights so I slowed a bit and tried to figure out what was going on. As I got closer, I saw that it was a city truck and they were filling pot holes. My first reaction was, “Watch out for the loose cold patch on the road.” (My husband would not be happy with me if I went through a bunch of that stuff and had it spraying up onto the truck.) My second reaction was, “JOY! All these holes will finally be taken care of for a while.” We all know they’re gonna come back because the roads in my town are, let’s say, less than perfect, but at least they will be filled for now. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get right?

After dropping the little miss off at school, I headed back towards home even more conscious of where the potholes were so I would stay clear of the loose stuff. Right in front of the school parking lot, the new pothole was filled. Hallelujah! But then, just a little further down the road, I had to start dodging the holes again. Not because they had loose cold patch around them. Nope. Because they were still holes! So as I’m driving down the road feeling a little like my own game of Frogger (except I’m the frog) I couldn’t help wondering, “Am I the only person who can see these?! Is mine the only vehicle that rattles if I miss and hit one? Or do the workers carry a tape measure that they break out at every hole and measure to make sure it fits the requirements of ‘bad enough?’ Why are they filling some and not others? (‘Sorry, this one is only 10 inches wide and seven inches deep. Gotta leave it for next time.’) Keep in mind, I don’t get bent out of shape at every little crack or spot in the road. I can handle that. I’ve gotten used to it. But come on. Potholes are potholes, right? Fix ‘em!

Now I think I should pause here and clarify. I love road repair men (and women). Truly. I know lots of them. Am related to some. Even dated one (or two?) back in the day. I couldn’t go about my boring daily business without them. They literally risk their lives to provide us with an easier way of getting from place to place. They try to make travel safer for everyone. They sacrifice time with their families to do their jobs. But, they have to do what they’re told. And that’s what gets me.

It seems like my town puts road conditions pretty low on their list of priorities and I just don’t get it! They’re always talking about growing the city and getting new businesses and people to move here, but why would anyone want to? The roads are mostly crap around here. No one new to the city is going to drive around and say to themselves, ‘Yeah, this is the perfect place to move and open a business. The bumps and holes along this stretch of street aren’t going to keep people from visiting our business. Oh, and the snow that’s covering everything? It’s great! Shoppers love to drive on streets that haven’t been plowed well. It gives it an old-world charm!’ But seriously, the town I grew up keeps the roads maintained well. And it’s at least ten times smaller with probably a much smaller budget to work with. This town should focus less on new events, attractions, and definitely decorative work alongside the road and focus more on the roads themselves.

I just had a new thought on this topic this morning. I wonder if they’ve created this kind of cyclical problem that keeps compounding. Here’s the theory. They can’t clear the snow as well as they would like because of all the dips, cracks and potholes in the road for fear of making them bigger with the snowplows. But then when the snow on the road starts to melt, it gets down into those same dips, cracks and potholes. It freezes again thus making those things worse. And all the snow alongside the roads (because some roads don’t have gutters and drains) melts and seeps under the road causing the road to shift and crack even more. I don’t know if that is what happens for sure, but it’s something to think about.

Well, whatever the case, I just have to keep at playing Frogger with my truck and hope that someday it gets better. Maybe someday, the city will start replacing the roads instead of trying to patch them time after time.

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