The repairs to Hwy. 54 pavement: Too little, too late

Back in 2014, the “black tar rumble strips” applied on Ga. Highway 54 through Peachtree City and between PTC and Fayetteville, were said to have been a “temporary fix.” Now we’re learning that the state’s definition of “temporary” is at least four years. (“Fayette’s rough roads get patches,” The Citizen online, March 19, 2014; recent Facebook post by Mr. Steve Brown, Fayette County Commission.)

What’s wrong with this?

First, the repairs were poorly made.

Either the crews missed random spots or the material has already popped out in spots. Perhaps both.

Second, the repairs were unnecessarily expensive.

I drove by the crews a dozen times during the process. (Yes, I kept count. Think of that what you will.) What I saw every time was one person driving a truck; one person riding the trailer that held hot tar; one person with a hose-and-wand applying tar; one person waving the truck driver to speed up or slow down; and two people watching. Six people of whom four were actually working.

Since “personnel costs” are often the largest part of most government budgets, let’s say that the cost of these repairs was about 50 percent higher than necessary. (On the other hand, these people are likely to vote to keep in power the current inefficient, if not corrupt, government on which they depend for employment.) My dozen sightings are anecdotal, but they pointed to a need for inquiry.

Third, the repairs were “too little, too late.”

Given the extensive damage, the road should have been milled and repaved, not patched. Much too little.

If tar were to be applied to cracks, it should have been done in the fall of 2013, before the winter freeze-thaw cycle. Actually, it should have been done a couple of falls before that. Much too late.

If the road is to be repaved no earlier than 2018, as reported by Mr. Brown, the missed spots and pop-outs will likely grow in next winter’s freeze-thaw cycles. Much too late.

Is this important in the grand scheme of things? Actually, yes. It is symptomatic of at least two problems that are driving our society, perhaps our civilization, to the brink of ruin.

First, government inefficiency (if not corruption). This is represented by the unnecessary cost incurred by the non-working workers, and the culture that encourages vote-buying by picking the public pocket.

Second, Hwy. 54 is an avatar for our crumbling infrastructure.

The very rich and their dupes (think “Taxed Enough Already”) are keeping governments at all levels from collecting the taxes needed to repair the infrastructure.

I can already hear the excuses: “We inherited this situation, it’s not our fault, past administrations are to blame.”

Maybe if our representatives at the state level would focus on what is important, not on what is “trending,” they could find the money to fix what’s broken without increasing taxes.

Paul Lentz
Peachtree City, Ga.