Thursday, March 21, 2013

Road maintenance still amazes me

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
While riding between Chiesina Uzzanese and Ponte Buggianese, I catch an asphalt repair crew in the act of badly repairing the badly paved streets. I regular ride bumpily over these attempts to patch the crumbling asphalt, and I wrote an entry about this two years ago, “Another mystery of Italian craftsmanship.” Today I get to see the actual work in progress.

I stop to watch first from a distance. I guess “crew” was not the right word to use. There is one man with a flatbed truck with some kind of government insignia on the side. He is emptying plastic bags of cold mix asphalt into a pothole that measures about 2 feet by 3 feet. His only tool appears to be a square-point shovel. I ride up closer to take a photo, and he shakes his head and walks up to me. No photos, he says. I don’t blame him. I’d be embarrassed if I were caught repairing public streets with this kind of craftsmanship, or lack thereof.

The rest of the road won't be repaired until these cracked chunks are removed
by traffic and natural processes. The 10-inch by 10-inch hole on the right side
of the photo (by the white line) wasn't big enough yet to deserve a patch.

I tell him that I do street repairs in America, and he seems to soften his stance. He holds up an empty bag of cold mix so that I can take a photo of the bag with the pothole in the background, but I am still lining up my camera when he sets the bag down and starts to walk off to go back to work—whoops, he somehow made it into the photo. When he has dumped in another bag, he levels it with the shovel and drives off. Passing cars will do the compacting for him.

The roads were breaking apart when I starting coming here in 2010, and they have worsened considerably in the past year. It must have been a harsh winter. With the Italian economy performing poorly, I’m sure the road maintenance budget has been curtailed. I almost never see any new road construction or resurfacing of the existing roads. On the bright side, maybe having entire roads made of speed bumps will slow down the crazy Italian drivers.
I came across this quote a few days after posting this entry, and it seems especially fitting for our family, which ran a road construction business for more than half a century:

"I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, I found out three things: First, the streets weren't paved with gold; second, they weren't paved at all: and third, I was expected to pave them."  

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