Some lessons on infrastructure


We will have to wait until the plastic bags are removed from the signal lights to be certain, but it seems that the company that built the “Green T” intersection at Ga. Highway 54 and Line Creek Drive has done an excellent job.

In fact, this may be the only stretch of Hwy. 54 that’s not pitted with potholes, “black tar rumble strips,” or alligator cracks.

“Black tar rumble strips”? That’s my name for the patches applied in the spring of 2014 as “temporary” repairs to Hwy. 54. (See “Fayette’s rough roads get patches,” The Citizen online, March 19, 2014.)

What’s wrong with “rumble strips”?

First, they were “temporary.” It’s been two years since those patches were made.

Second, the repairs were poorly made. The crews missed spots and the tar has already popped out in places.

Third, the repairs were unnecessarily expensive. I drove by the crews a dozen times. What I saw was one person driving a truck; one person riding the trailer that held hot tar; one person applying tar; one person waving the truck driver to speed up or slow down; and two people watching. Six people. Four were working.

Personnel costs are the largest part of most government budgets. The cost of these repairs was probably 50 percent higher than necessary.

On the other hand, these extra 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 point to a need for inquiry.

Fourth, the repairs were “too little, too late.” Given the extensive damage, the road should have been milled and repaved, not patched.

The tar should have been applied in the fall, before the winter freeze-thaw cycle. Much too late. The missed spots and pop-outs grew with the freeze-thaw cycles of the winters of 2015 and (so far) 2016.

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

First, government inefficiency (if not corruption). This is demonstrated 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 and maintain the infrastructure.

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

Maybe if our county commissioners would spend more time at their meetings — and when talking to the press — accomplishing important tasks rather than self-aggrandizement, they could get more important things done.

Maybe if our representatives at the state level would focus on what is important, not on what is trending on a social website, perhaps they could raise enough money to fix what’s broken.

Paul Lentz
Peachtree City, Ga.