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Monday, July 19, 2010

The reality that the bridgebuilding fantasists ignore

Gravel road to HúsavíkThis will be considered a good road before long if we don't stop extending pavement everywhere. Image by Zanthia via Flickr

Overextending on paving is a sure route to bankruptcy and a fast route to bad roads.

It's time for the Mid-Valley counties and cities to declare a paving moratorium: No new paving except under a "depave and trade" scheme, where for every new lane-mile of paved roadway, you take up twice the lane-miles of underused paving elsewhere in the same jurisdiction.

This has several good effects: makes the governments -- and the taxpayers that those governments depend on -- recognize that pouring a new roadway is a serious, long-term commitment to maintenance, just as we are entering a period where all serious, long-term commitments will be tested severely as tax-revenues continue falling. And, second, it provides a way to recycle the roadway materials from the depaving. Also, it encourages conversion of roads from full access (including heavy trucks) to restricted access roads (bikes, peds, emergency vehicles only), which can endure essentially forever. Weight destroys roads; get the hefty boys off the roads and they hold up amazingly well (even in the face of hard winters, because it's the heavy traffic that damages the roads and initiates the freeze/thaw cycle).
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