Saturday, March 07, 2009

How many ____ does it take to fill in a pothole?

On Thursday, I overheard a report on CBC radio from my boss' radio, something about the Mayor's task force on governance and how it would concentrate power in too few people.

I went to the CBC's website in search of more details, but found nothing. The City's website didn't have anything either, but I did discover notice of a media event that afternoon to demonstrate a new pothole repair technology.

As a cyclist, pothole repair certainly interests me. For example, here's a rough spot right outside the Mayor's office on Elgin, which has clearly been patched a number of different times, leaving an ad-hoc rumble strip to massage your derrière as you ride over it:

I figured I'd try for some amateur reporting, in preparation for the Impending collapse of the news industry (after which bloggers will no longer be able to link to newspaper articles for their sources).

It's no longer a fresh story, and the Citizen's Patrick Dare actually did a pretty good job of capturing the story, but I wanted to tell the story again anyway.

The media release said it was on Queen Elizabeth Drive and Ralph Street, which was a street name I didn't recognize. I plugged the intersection into Google Maps, which couldn't find Ralph Street either. I went to the City's eMaps (which I blogged about previously, which to my surprise couldn't find Ralph Street either.

Queen Elizabeth not being very long, I eventually found it on the map manually. The intersection in question was in fact at Broadway.

This is right beside Burrard's Inlet, and the City had brought their own portable media station. A Generator whirred near a parked parade of journalists' vehicles.

Councillor Doucet started off his speech with the words "Welcome to Pottawa," a line which the Citizen didn't shy away from using to headline the early version of their story. Actually a reference to the the fact that we were in pothole-ridden Capital Ward, one could be forgiven for thinking it to be a reference to Crosstown Traffic, also in Doucet's ward.

Councillor McRae later commented, "I'm not sure, Councillor Doucet, if I agree with the term "Pottawa" for maybe other reasons, related to that cannabis thing."

The Mayor took the stand podium to read off the press release. In this photo, he looks so lonely, yet so serene.

Okay, here's a slightly more charitable photo of him, which I can't help posting because of the "no right [wing] turn" sign immediately behind him.

Then the gaggle of reporters, politicians, and City Staff moseyed down the street to the demo place.

Once everyone was in place, Councillor McRae took the lead and asked for a shovel. Her gucci shoes didn't shy her away from getting down and dirty as she put some hot asphalt into the pothole.

"If politics don't work out..." the mayor joked.

Clive took the shovel next and exclaimed "finally, I get to do something useful!"

Someone (possibly the Mayor again) then observed "Councillor Doucet, building more roads," and Councillor McRae, who was there in her role as Chair of the City's Transportation Committee said, "he can shovel it."

Councillor McRae then took a rake and smoothed down the asphalt before handing the rake to Councillor Doucet to do the same. The mayor opted to only watch this step.A worker took a hot metal iron over the asphalt to flatten it down.

"So where's the new technology?" asked Councillor Doucet. Silly as the comment sounds in retrospect, I have to admit I was wondering the same thing.

But the new technology is this propane-powered "asphalt recycler unit" that is small enough to be pulled behind a pickup truck. This allows them to heat the asphalt before laying it down, making the pothole patches more durable and bonding them better to the existing roadway.

They laid down some test patches on Feburary 28 and will be reporting back in April on how well this technology fares compared to the cold patches.

So you know the old joke about how many City workers it takes to supervise a pothole repair? I think this scrum of politicians, City workers, and media people has them beat.

And that's it! About fifteen minutes after the start of the first speech, the councillors had gone back to their offices, and the journalists went back to their cars to file their reports.

The road crew, of course, stayed to finish patching the potholes on Queen Elizabeth!

- RG>


Nat said...

Great to meet you this morning.
My neighbour works for the City on the pothole crew. Someone aksed about the "new technology". He looked at us and said "It's bullshit. The engineer think it's a good idea. Doesn't change a thing." Sort of like the politician.

Darrell said...

So the lesson here is that if you give the mayor more power, not only will potholes get filled - but every one will become a media event.

RealGrouchy said...

ooh! zing!

- RG>