Terra Infirma and the Boggy Ox Carts of Floyd
I feel certain that Floyd County of all the Commonwealth’s counties, has more miles of “unimproved” roads than any other. I’m sure I’ve at least heard that stated as fact.
You just can’t quite appreciate, with the figure of those many hundreds of miles of so-calledÂ gravel, how incredibly unimproved this particular one hasÂ become over the past few years of relative neglect.
At one point, there was a VDOT station in the county. The workers knew the roads. They knew the people who lived on the roads. Their switchboard operator had actually heard of your road and had some notion of where you lived in the real world.Â That was then.
It is true that someone will answer the phone when you call the VDOT number to register a “concern.” They might be in Richmond. They might be polishing their nails or watching the last few minutes of a Netflix movie while they pretend to be taking down your various laments about the deplorable–if not dangerous–condition of your road. They’ve heard it all before–about the same god-forsaken byway. Yawn. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and call. Just get real. There’s no money. And your road? You kidding?
So I called a week or so back and described the situation on this “third world county ox cart” that was once a state-maintained road.
“It’s a disgrace. An embarrassment. We have friends who refuse to come see us for fear their cars will suffer damage from the pot holes. No, let me rephrase that. Potholes would be preferred. We have bomb craters.”
“It’s so bad” I told the poor lady whose fate it was to take my call “that we have to keep tongue depressors in the car to put between our teeth whenÂ we leave the house to keep from breaking a filling.”
But today. Today, it was the MUD. We knew better (we thought) than to go straight out up the high side from here, where the ice lingers for months, and the mud can be really really bad. No we’d go Griffith Creek to church–a longer route and still steep but not as wet. Wrong. It was really really really bad.
It was as close as I ever hope to come to an off-road mud race. There were places I thought surely we’d lose our forward progress in first gear and never regain it–if we didn’t fishtail off the road entirely. There was mud splattered all the way to the roof.
Yes, I’m embarrassed and disgusted. They’ll come out here eventually and dump some rocky dirt on top of dirt. What good is that?
I told somebody today that this road probably got better treatment in the days of road crews with pick and shovel vs the straight blade of a Volvo road grader that makes the road look lever by pushing mud around the highest bedrock that pokes up to the surface. A guy with a shovel would find all those places where there is nothing but mud–where from bedrock up, there should be a new load of actual crushed rock. Gravel road. Ya know?
Yes this is an unimproved country road, but it can’t get much more unimproved and those of us who live here be able to reach the improved roads that lie two short miles and a twenty minute shakeÂ shimmy-and-swim from here.
NOTE: even the VDOT workers shake their heads. They know what needs to be done. They are not given the time, fundingÂ or political willÂ toÂ do what’s needed.