Saturday, August 27, 2016

Small Town Road Issues

I have to relate something that, in my opinion, could only happen in a small town like mine.

Like just about any municipality, one topic of discussion that always comes up is the maintenance of the roads. At some point just about everyone who lives in a town like ours gets concerned about the condition of the road on which they live. Like many towns, ours has a multiyear schedule that lists the roads that will be fixed in a given year, with some requiring just some paving while others require a complete reconstruction.

It's no surprise that some folks don't like the fact that their road may not see anything other some patching for a few years. Their road is always in dire need of being redone. They don't want to hear about how the list was assembled or that other roads in the schedule ahead of them are in much worse shape and are almost impassible. They want to be moved up on the list and let someone else's road be put on the back burner. They usually don't get their way, at least not here.

What is a surprise is when the residents on a road scheduled to be completely rebuilt come to the road agent and the board of selectmen demanding that their road be taken off the list altogether. If they had their druthers, they'd prefer if the town tore up the existing pavement and return the road to its original dirt and gravel. Their reasoning?

Cars are traveling too fast on their road as it is and making it better will encourage even higher speeds.

Frankly, I don't blame them because they're right.

The posted speed limit for their road is 25 MPH. The highest speed measured by radar on that same road: 71 MPH. This road is a narrow country road with one very steep decline at one end. The road surface isn't very good as it is and someone somehow managed to go 71 MPH on that road. It's a miracle they aren't dead. The average speed is about 40 MPH, a good 15 MPH above the limit, a speed that is still too fast for some stretches of that road.

As such, their argument for not fixing the road and actually degrading its condition by returning it to a dirt and gravel surface makes sense. It will also save our town a good portion of the $250,000 budgeted for fixing their road next year.

Are they going to receive what it is they've asked for?

That's yet to be decided.

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