September 30, 2005

Update: Road Maintenance Cont.

More on the saga of no-pavement roadways: I received a call back from someone at the Highway Department this afternoon, who was quite courteous and helpful. (The person who answered the phone initially at DPW never took my information or did anything beyond telling me it was a Town Meeting budget decision and if I had a problem, I should complain to my Town Meeting members and the Board of Selectmen).

The executive summary of what he told me is that this particular process, called something like chip and seal, is many times cheaper than blacktop, it is considered "proven," that it will settle into an acceptable surface, and that they have been working very hard to deal with the dust and gravel and will try to do more.

The dust was indeed somewhat better this morning after the rain, and there is somewhat less loose gravel being kicked up when cars drive by than there was last weekend. But it's still a problem (which I'm told will continue to improve); and it's still an unpleasant surface to walk on unless you've got thick-soled hiking boots, now that the odd-shaped, pointy, sharp stones are settling in and sticking to/up from the surface.

My frustration is that I truly don't believe consideration was given to the fact that in a residential neighborhood without sidewalks, this surface serves pedestrians as well as cars. I'm not asking that sidewalks be installed this year (although I wouldn't mind if they were). I'm asking that people who make decisions on roadways think about when pedestrians and bicyclists must share the same streets as cars, trucks and SUVs. What's an acceptable temporary surface for a motorized vehicle over a couple of months is not necessarily acceptable for kids walking to school.

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