Thursday, 8 May 2014

Resurfacing Meadow Street

Yesterday afternoon Ashley and I made another journey to our suppliers in Chepstow to sort out a batch of problematic radios and to order a new batch of replacements, as our original equipment issue approaches the end of its life expectancy in the coming year. I returned to join Clare supper as she had two colleagues staying with us overnight, but then I returned to the office to work with Ashley on constitutional revision issues (yet again). When I got home, getting on for eleven o'clock, I had to hunt in Llanfair Road for a parking space, in anticipation of not being able to park in Meadow Street all next day, due to road surfacing. I got luck and was able to shoehorn the car into a space only a foot longer than itself. Old VW Golfs are great manouverers.

The road works team was with us by eight, but several people had not yet removed their cars, and the first couple of hours was taken up by the team knocking on doors to find out who had ignored the notices, hand delivered a couple of days ago. Some of the offenders were from neighbouring streets, and took some tracking down. I didn't see the tow truck being pressed into service, but it was ten thirty by the time work was able to start with a clear street.

A remarkable machine designed to scrape off the old decayed road surface, sweep up the bulk of the road stone and send it up a twenty foot conveyer belt into the back of an accompanying lorry, was first on the scene.
 They were accompanied by a road sweeping vehicle and a couple of all purpose excavators to trim missed corners and tidy up loose chippings, leaving the stone gutters and kerbs exposed neatly. The speed and precision with which these vehicles accomplished their task testified to great training and teamwork on the part of the crew.

When they tackled the far end of the street where it opens out on to the back lane, a new sink hole appeared right next to the iron cover of a sewer access shaft. It's in the area where repairs to sink holes has been necessary at least four times since I retired. Why the subsidence occurs has never been tracked down. The road works team had not been briefed on this history and possibility of re-occurrence, by the Council's Highways department which commissioned the work. When I asked the men probing the hole about this, they merely laughed. Nobody tells us anything, they said.
With a bit of a struggle they removed the cast iron sewer access cover and satisfied themselves that its brick shaft wasn't damaged. Someone noticed a piece of string had been secured to the frame of the cover, and tugged it up to reveal a collection of small dirty plastic bags tied to the other end. "It's a drug stash" one of the men remarked, and debate ensured as to whether there was coke or hashish in the bags. None of the crew was keen to find out, or handle it in any way, so they agreed to leave it where it had been found, and replaced the access cover. If it was indeed a drug stash, either it had been forgotten, or the user had been unable to retrieve it, as the cover required special tools and considerable effort to remove.

Next the tarmac laying machine and road roller arrived, and the new surface was pressed into place with equal speed and dexterity.
 In three hours the job was done, despite continuous rain. I went into the office, and by the time I returned home, the line painting team had been and gone, leaving the street looking fresh and clean, filling up rapidly with cars once more, including our own, once Clare came home. She'd used it earlier and I didn't exactly know where it was parked ad interim, so she retrieved it while I cooked supper.

My photos of a memorable couple of hours can be seen here.

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