After 31 years in the United States, I find myself more American than I ever expected to be, yet not so American in many ways.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Pass at own risk!
Since the weekend, I've come to the conclusion it's not really the snow I dislike so much about winter. When it snows, I simply stay home until the storm is over and the roads have been ploughed. What I really don't like is the ice, and the HUGE potholes that form in the roads. We have signs on the main road that we have to drive along to get to our house that say "Potholes ahead. Proceed at own risk." These are not temporary signs. They have been there for, as far as I know, at least the last eleven years - since we bought a house in this town! You'd think that at some point in eleven years they could have fixed the potholes, but no! They do some temporary patching, but they know it's not going to last so they don't take the signs down.
Currently there are some sections of road where it is absolutely impossible to avoid the potholes because they spread across the entire width of the road. (Not one pothole that wide, but a series of them arranged in such a way that it is impossible to avoid them.) Some are very wide and only an inch or two deep at this point, but others are already ten or twelve inches deep! This despite the fact that they've already done one round of patching this winter. They haven't done anything recently though, as patching a twelve inch deep hole that's full of slush doesn't work. Because of the amount of water on the roads from the melting snow, it is difficult to tell how deep most of the potholes are, so you have to assume the worst as you're driving - that they will swallow your tires and cause serious damage to your vehicle. When the water freezes, it evens out the road a little - but, of course, it also makes the potholes bigger in the long run!
In the town's defense, they have plans to widen the road and that will of course involve resurfacing the whole thing, so it seems like a waste to repair the potholes too thoroughly. The only thing is, the plan to widen the road has been in place for over eleven years (i.e. since BEFORE we bought our house!) This week there have finally been surveyors out at this end of the road, close to the line with the next town, so it looks as though the work will actually begin this year. They've even put up signs on the side roads leading to the main road: (Photo taken from a side road, looking towards the main road, which runs left-right across the photo.) All the trees on the other side of the main road within 6 feet of the road have orange marks on them (not just the few you can see in the photo.) This is the first stage of the road widening - all those trees will be felled. With luck, this will bring more sunlight in to the end of our road. Currently there is a layer of ice across the end of the road - just visible in the photo, but not in all its glory. It is several inches thick, and there are ruts in in it several inches deep. Without anti-lock brakes, or driving EXTREMELY slowly (as in barely moving), stopping at the end of the road is next to impossible right now.
When the weather improves* and they do eventually get started, there is no way we will be able to get anywhere once the work starts without having to navigate the roadworks. Sadly, even the thaw I'm looking forward to will bring no relief in terms of driving around here!
*Apparently no time soon, as there's 4 to 8 inches of snow forecast for Friday night!