Maybe it’s the change of seasons. Maybe it’s the end of the fiscal year. Or maybe it’s the tens of thousands of Euro-travelers scheduled to descend on the region in three-plus months.
Whatever the reason, crews of leather-skinned men in hard hats and reflective vests have been out in force throughout spring in an apparent rush to fill every pothole and smooth every sidewalk. A jackhammer’s mind-numbing drone outside our office for three days made us think: Our city’s leadership, in recent memory, has never seemed quite this dedicated to improving public infrastructure, so why the sudden interest and investment?
After the winter’s wear-and-tear on roads, the city’s Department of Public Works’ paving season starts in the spring. In April, its Department of Public Works and Department of Public Utilities posted 114 road, lane and sidewalk closure notifications on its website, up from 60 in March. The site lists 120 notifications for all of last year. As of press time, Public Works spokeswoman Sharon North says there are 35 ongoing paving projects across the city. Of those, six coincide with the course for the Union Cycliste Internationale Road World Championships, but Public Works had determined those roads needed repaving anyway. “They weren’t put on there just because of UCI,” she says. Come July, another 28 will go out for competitive bid.
Since July 2013, the city planned to spend about $1.7 million to repave 26 miles of roads in preparation for the 2015 UCI event, scheduled for late September.
We know, we know: A high tide raises all boats, but until the work is done, it’s slow sailing. So, for all the times we sat at a standstill during our morning commutes with nothing but the goofy humor of Jack Lauterback to distract us, for the added time to get from point A to point B, and for the many, many stops along the way, we begrudgingly proclaim the detour sign our Richmonder of the Month. —The Staff