It’s time for our annual futile complaint session about potholes. Driving down a street these days is like riding a Radio Flyer red wagon down the stairs. If you’re listening to a talk show on the car radio, you can hear the broadcaster’s teeth click together. Sometimes they bite their tongue.
There are a few stretches I drive where the potholes seem ... vintage. Classic! They may have historical preservation status. There might even be a plaque that says:
“King’s Highway 1977 (KH-77), a stretch of Dupont Av. that is regarded as a notable example of ‘The Ol’ Axle-Snapper’ style of potholes popular in the First Perpichian Era. Attempts to preserve the road resulted in annual patching until it was deemed an ‘important reminder of the futility of staving off the inevitable ravages of time’ by the Minneapolis Public Works’ Existential Division, which since has disbanded because, what’s the point of it all, really.”
No, probably not. If it was a special pothole there would be cone by it. Perhaps they would have sprayed orange paint around it. These are offerings to the great god Asphaltus, who comes in the spring and leaves smoking, smelly deposits of hot-top to fill our holes. If we are worthy, that is, and truly believe.
Apparently we are not worthy, so it’s our fault.
Here’s a suggestion: What if they made roads out of something that didn’t fall apart every year?
I know, I know — how would they build these roads? And who would do it? Winged monkeys that flew around barfing magic road filler? And then unicorns would come along and stamp it smooth with their golden hoofs? C’mon.
But maybe — just maybe — dumping some more asphalt in the same holes every year isn’t a long-term solution.
Asphalt, as you probably know, is viscoelastic, which also sounds like some musical genre your kid loves. It means the asphalt is pliable when warm and brittle when cold. Water gets in when it rains — who could have seen that coming? — and then it freezes when the temperature drops. Cold weather in Minnesota? Again, total surprise. Anyway, the expansion of the ice as the water freezes cracks the asphalt, and after this has happened a few times, 40 pounds of asphalt evaporates.
Am I missing something here? Probably, but it seems odd that we get potholes because we use asphalt, then repair the potholes with more asphalt.
The long-term solution for potholes involves taking up the surrounding roadbed and replacing it, and that can’t be done everywhere every year. Too expensive. They’d have to raise money by some crazy scheme like a tax on gas and license fees for the vehicles that use the roads, but that’ll never happen. So it’s patch ’n’ pray until someone invents a way to fill the hole that won’t crumble after a year. Pour some stones and Super Glue in the hole, for heaven’s sake. Or some milk-and-oatmeal — we all know that if you leave a bowl in the sink with some milk and oatmeal, six hours later you need a pneumatic chisel to dislodge it.
This concludes our annual, pointless pothole lament, which is just practice for getting irritated by summer road construction.