Street Repairs? Not Up In Here!
I spend a lot of time telling anyone who will listen that these automated trucks that you see all spring filling holes in the street aren't really repairing anything except holes in city budgets.
The trucks are purchased by municipalities at huge expense with the idea that it will save costs in the long run by dedicating less manpower to the task of repairing cracks and small holes in streets. You've seen them…the cumbersome arm extends over a crack and spits a combination of petroleum and gravel on top of the hole, and the the driving-over it by us taxpayers presses the majority of the junk into the hole. The rest of it it picked up by your car and thrown around in your wheel wells and at other vehicles in traffic until a street sweeper comes along to pick up the remnants. What is left is an uneven patch that partially fills the hole, and also creates a lip or edge around the hole. So it's actually Worse to drive over. But I guess that's what you get when you use an idea to patch roads that was last used by your toddler with glitter during Arts and Crafts. Messy, ineffective, and no safer than before the patch. So why would a city accept sub-par repairs?
Now what the city planners are thinking about is the budget (salaries) that will be saved by the jobs that will eventually be cut, and what the companies who sell the equipment are thinking about is unloading these awful trucks and keeping their registers ringing in the long run with supply and maintenance of these things. What NOBODY is thinking about are the citizens of the town, and whether the roads are actually getting fixed.
Take a look around at the roads these last few days. The warm weather, melting and re-freezing snow and ice have brought more cracks and heaving of the streets. But the part that bothers me the most is that the biggest chunks are popping up from the same places where they were so poorly patched the previous season. This must come at great satisfaction to the City Department members who fought against these trucks for any reason, even though the satisfaction must be short-lived. The personnel cuts will still come, and the streets must now be repaired again, and the only method they have to use is the one that has proven not up to the task.
The "I-told-you-so" for me is not satisfying at all to say. I look at repairs made by neighboring towns along routes I drive, and some are broken, and some are so bad they too will need to be overhauled. It's the tale of the midwest. But nowhere is it worse than the poor attempts made to repair concrete roads with the auto-patch trucks that have sprayed off-target and with the wrong materials. Good news for the company that sold us the bill-of-goods, bad news for drivers. I look forward to patch season, and election season even more.