This week the highways authority decided it was time to give many roads in my area a makeover. And so began the process of resurfacing. I say resurfacing, but in this country, we don’t really ‘resurface’, we throw a few small stones over a very thinly spread layer of molten tar (or some similar substance). As if covering a cake with a soft chocolate icing (frosting) and sprinkling with a light dusting of cocoa powder on top!
However, this is their chosen method, and the highways authority decided they were going to do multiple roads in one day. And to their credit, they did, minimizing the disruption. They were helped by most of the residents obeying the ‘no parking’ signs, although I did come across one car which was parked on the pavement. I say parked, I believe the workmen had ‘bounced’ it there because it was left in their way. It was now completely blocking the way for pedestrians who had to step onto the hot, molten tar, with the loose chippings on top, which instantly seemed to stick to the pedestrian’s shoes better than they did to the road surface!
I believe the powers-that-be call this wonderful method of resurfacing ‘surface dressing’. It’s a bit like decorating your house without first cleaning off the old, flaky paint. The new dressing isn’t going to look quite right as it never had a good start in life.
I guess it is a cheaper way to give a road a few more years, but the problem with that is that if the roads had any imperfections, and let’s face it, in my area most roads have, these will remain and will ‘resurface’ (excuse the pun) after a few weeks. Coupled with that, the drains/services covers are never raised to the new height of the new surface and therefore create massive craters in the road. Obstacles which can buckle wheels, puncture a tyre or entirely swallow up cyclists!
The gutter drains had also been covered and taped down with gaffer tape. There was a small amount of gaffer tape visible so the workmen could come along the next day and remove the covers. The residents just had to pray there wasn’t a torrential rain storm that night as there was no where for the water to run!
Once the road has been ‘dressed’, signs are placed along the roadside informing users of a temporary reduced speed limit which is designed to minimize the number of loose chippings which are thrown up by the tyres. Unfortunately, not many drivers adhere to this limit which results in tiny stones being catapulted at passers-by and which end up strewn across the pavements. Also, as they drive along they are creating a cloud of dust in their wake. This cloud could compete with the recent volcanic eruption which has, for a second consecutive year, once again devastated our air space.
The day after this surface dressing has been applied, a sweeper lorry carefully negotiates each road to pick up any of the chippings which haven’t either been pressed into the tarmac by the vehicles which have subsequently driven over it or any which haven’t been redistributed onto the pavement. This lorry has large rotating brushes which are meant to push the tiny stones towards the middle of the lorry where they will be ‘swept’ into a large container. However, most of the stones are flicked towards unsuspecting passers-by (hopefully not the same ones hit by the stones from the speeding cars the day before) or once again scattered on the pavement.
There seems to be a pattern emerging in this whole resurfacing exercise. I wonder if a much smaller sweeper truck goes along the pavement to collect these small stones to be used on future surface dressings.
On some roads, the resurfacing has been interrupted, for whatever reason, and patches of the road have been left undressed. Driving along one road earlier, I noticed the workmen had not resurfaced a small patch where the road had the word ‘SLOW’ painted on it. Also there were several short stretches, about 3 metres long, of cycle lanes which had been omitted.
So, if you are in my town over the next few days, avoid these newly surfaced roads. They are very easy to spot, as they have been covered with stones which are a completely different colour to all the surrounding roads. And all the surrounding roads now have very messy approaches where the loose chippings have been dragged and swept from the new surface and deposited where ever they have fallen.
Drive with care! 😉