Thursday, September 22, 2011

Road Construction Workers Needed

The street in front of my house is being repaved this week and it is a marvelous thing to watch.

The first step came when all realized that the old road just wasn't working anymore. Sure, it was functional and sufficed for going about our daily lives, but it caused immense amounts of suffering. While there were no holes that would swallow elephants, the entire road was littered with potholes and cracks that caused you to trip and stumble as you went along. Even worse, in some respects, were the constant mind games as you spent most of your time looking out for the problem areas — that you knew were there and so desperately wanted to avoid — knowing the grief they would invoke.

One of the marvelous things about the process is the teamwork involved. Hundreds of people are involved in the process, each with their own specific job to do and as long as each person does their job, the process flows smoothly and seamlessly. Of course, small, unexpected problems do pop up, but it seems that they have small teams set up that can, on a moments notice, rush in to make the repairs, iron out the wrinkles, and smooth tempers. This isn't the job of one person or just a few; this is a major undertaking.

The first step was to strip off all the old beliefs asphalt that was known to be causing the problems. It's not an easy process by any means, but tools have been developed over the years that allow you to remove even them hardest set problem areas.

The old asphalt is stripped right down to the base layer, right down to the ground. That is then thoroughly investigated with teams walking back and forth looking for any signs of weakness where future problems could once again spring up. Areas that need support are given the time and effort needed to stabilize them. Nothing is hurried — this is a process that takes time.

Once the team is convinced that the underlying base is solid everywhere, once everyone believes it can and will support those that choose to travel on it, the rebuilding process begins. There is no guess work here, years of investigation, years of trial and error, years of practical implementation have shown us the best mixture of asphalt to use as a replacement for the old.

Not too hard and brittle, not too soft and supple. Not too easily susceptible to heat, not too susceptible to cold. Can deal with those that carry heavy, hard to manage loads as well as those that pass by with little trace. Can as easily hold up to raging storms that float by unexpectedly as it does to cool spring days with pleasant breezes.

The asphalt can make our lives miserable if it isn't tended to and repaired as necessary. Our job is to keep an eye on it and look for those places that make our lives unnecessarily difficult. What sense does it make to live in a world of pot-holed asphalt and broken roads when with just a little effort we can get it repaired and everyone benefits?

On paper, this process sounds simple: strip off the problems and repave with a new road that both supports us and encourages us to get out and interact with others. In fact, though, it takes immense amounts of work and the support of a great many people to get it done.

The results, the new road we travel, makes all the effort well worth the time and money we need to invest.

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