Few things are more infuriating to see than a new or well paved road being torn up and improperly repaired. Unfortunately this tends to happen quite frequently where new houses are built in the place of older existing ones.
These repair jobs are often done with little regard for the longevity and quality of the fix, or any consideration for what it’s like to drive on. Many of these excavations are just filled with gravel and then covered in a thin veneer of tar. This results in the area either sunken down or bulging up out of the road where little effort was made to properly flatten it.
While its obvious that this trend needs to stop there are a series of factors that play into why these situations exist and how they can be remedied.
Firstly, it seems that the city is completely ignoring the fact that these terrible repairs are ruining the massive investment they make when they choose to re-pave a road. These jobs take months to complete and cost exorbitant amounts of money which should not so quickly go to waste. With large-scale repairs happening only every few decades one would hope that the city would take more steps to keep their roads in a good condition.
Secondly, there is the issue of why these roads are being torn up only months or a few years after being re-paved. When the new houses are put in they are connected up to all the utilities that lie under the road such as water, sewage, and natural gas. These new houses are going in where older houses previously existed so there should be no issue of needing a connection where one didn’t already existed. What this leaves us with is the conclusion that they are replacing the older pipes that connected to the original dwelling.
The conclusion must be that when the road is replaced they are not replacing all the utility connections that lie beneath it. While they may be replacing the mains it is the individual house connections that are the subject of excavation when a replacement house is put in. This problem speaks the a greater issue of the lack of coordination between utilities and the municipality when it comes to infrastructure upgrades.
Even through a complete replacements of the infrastructure under a road is obviously the most expensive option it will be just as costly in the long run when compared to the cost of future repairs and damage to road users.
Although a complete replacement of all piping under the roadway when the surface is replaced is the optimal solution there are also numerous alternatives which would help mitigate the damage caused by the patches without such a drastic cost increase.
One such alternative is to limit excavation of roads for 5-10 years after they have been replaces to maintain the finish that so much time and money was spent to achieve. The main drawback of this solution is that there will be numerous angry people looking to build new houses who will have to work around these restrictions.
The contractors used to upgrade the new connection to the house is also a possible area of improvement. Options here include requiring that the repair by the private contractor be inspected and approved by city staff to make sure that it is sufficiently up to code. This could include a more stringent repair criteria where emphasis is placed on recreating the solid road foundation that was originally there.
Should these requirements not provide a sufficient remedy to the issue it could alternatively be mandated that only city crews could make such repairs. While this would obviously be more expensive it would be the only choice if private contractors are unable to uphold the basic building standards.
With so many parts that play into why our residential streets are getting systematically destroyed it’s easy to see how the issue has gone unsolved. This though should not be an excuse for any city wanting to maintain an high quality of their infrastructure.