Saturday, April 05, 2014

stoning the sand

"The authorities have taken just over 50 years to improve and maintain decent access to the community of Villa Obregon."

I thought what I call my niño espa
ñol was playing havoc with reason -- as it was wont to do.  But there it was in clear Spanish on our local news website, canal 235: "Poco más de 50 años han tardado las autoridades para mejorar y mantener un acceso digno a la comunidad de Villa Obregón."

Every town has its areas of what is euphemistically referred to as "deferred maintenance."  In the area where I grew up, it was Johnson Creek.  Every winter, the creek would flood causing the same families to leave their houses and watch what little they were able to accumulate float down the creek to the Willamette into the Columbia and out to sea.

Eventually, the local municipalities got around to doing something about the flooding -- undoubtedly with a lot of prodding from insurance companies.  For all I know it may have taken 50 years for anything to be done.

We have a Johnson Creek here in
Villa Obregón.  It's not called that.  But the seasonal damage that is inflicted on Calle Reforma is every bit as damaging as the creek of my youthful memory.

Calle Reforma is the only street that leads directly from Highway 200 into our little village.  Some of the street is paved with concrete and river rock.  But large segments are nothing more than stretches of sand.

Whenever it rains, those stretches of sand become tank traps.  And it does not take much.  Just a steady rain, and in one day, what was once a flat surface will be reduced, through the steady flow of buses, trucks, and cars, to something that would stop George Patton.  (I have written on that topic before in holes in the table.)

After fifty years, the local authorities have decided that the summer rains should not be allowed to dissuade tourists from driving to what we quaintly call our Playa del Sol.

For $1,261,000 (Mx), we are in the process of getting two major street repairs.

One project involves paving a one block stretch of sand masquerading as a street.  The process is fascinating.  Almost like creating a work of public art.

First, the underlying sand is leveled -- or what passes for level -- and is packed.  Then, two lanes of concrete are laid in each direction.

When the concrete sets, the space between each of the strips is filled with river rock mounted in a concrete mix.

The crew has been working on that block for a few weeks.  On Friday afternoon it was completed.  The street is still blocked -- to let the concrete cure.

The other project was a bit more complex. 

When Calle Reforma leaves the highway, it makes a steady descent and then rises a bit.  At the bottom of the dip is a stretch of sand that is nearly impossible to navigate in the summer.  I often drive several blocks out of my way to avoid it.

But that is when it is in its best condition.  If we get a heavy rain, the road will wash away to the level of the water and sewer lines.

The first step was to resolve past damage.  The crew first dug up the street to either replace or re-settle the water and sewer lines.

The digging part of the project is complete.  Once the paving crew completed the first project, they shifted over to paving this section.  As of Friday evening, the crew had made good progress.

If all goes well, the paving will completed Saturday of next week.  Just in time for one of the two most lucrative holidays for our Babylon by the Sea -- semana santa (Holy Week).  The SUVs and buses are going to start filling the town with Mexican tourists with pesos in hand to have a rollicking good time.

In the five years I have been living here, I have witnessed a huge improvement in our streets.  There are still plenty of candidates for more attention.  But the shocks in my Escape appreciate the work -- even if it did take over 50 years to complete.

Canal 235 reported one of my neighbors as saying: "Obras de este tipo, dan respuesta a las demandas de la gente."  ("Works of this type respond to the demands of the people.")

And I thought I knew how to turn an ironic phrase. 

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