The road outside my house is the de-facto Northern ring road around this city. I know this because whenever I'm away from home overnight in some idyllic spot, I can't sleep because there are no heavy trucks thundering past my windows in the wee hours.
To add to the traffic outside my home, it is the location of a major intersection as well. A few years ago I had to fight City Hall because they were proposing to install a "Park 'n Ride' on one of the corners and it was to house 600 cars by day and 80 trucks overnight, (with their freezer boxes buzzing). Add to that the proposed regular buses to and from the place and you can see that the road itself was going to see some more serious wear and tear. Happily City Hall saw the error of their ways in that instance.
Directly opposite our front window here there is a peculiar phenomenon in the road. Over several years now I have noticed that it takes three to four months for a gigantic pothole to open up, always in the same spot. I can actually hear it developing at night as truck wheels bounce in and out of it over time. It begins with rattles and as the weeks pass and the hole widens and deepens and the rattles progress to bangs. Then the bangs become progressively louder for a while until one dark night there is an almighty crash as the front wheel off some unfortunate vehicle is sheared off.
Enter stage left then, the Cork Corporation with their oft-tried solution to this problem. A small army of guys in high viz gear show up, the road is partially closed and they secretly go about their black magic for a week or so. The pothole mysteriously becomes a humpy mound when they're gone and the whole process begins again. The merry-go-round has been running about three times a year for a good long while now and it rarely varies.
Now I have to admit at this point that I know shag-all about filling potholes. I have mastered the shovel alright but there my expertise ends. However, it strikes me that there has to be a better way. Surely somewhere there is a more, dare I say, permanent solution, or at least something that we can get ten years out of? Is it beyond our collective wit to actually "fix" the damned pothole or have we taken a leaf from the medical manuals and decided to 'treat' it instead. Speaking as a rank amateur, my theory is that there is a weakness in the proximity of this pothole and my true genius lies in the fact that I am able to surmise this due to the recurring nature of the problem. Is this some divine revelation on my part or what?
If tossing a few stones in and then tarring all over the top of it doesn't work, then you'd have to assume that some kind of primitive monster lurks just below the surface with an insatiable appetite for stones and tar. I sense you don't like my gravelly monster theory though. But it must be subsidence then? That tiny section of a long road is sinking at one point? But at the bottom of the hill on the bridge that spans the dual carriageway, the exact same thing is happening, IN FOUR PLACES!
A quiet unplanned pint with an acquaintance recently cleared up the matter for me. The lad, who can often be seen propping up the new bar in my local explained the potholes and their function. He began by reminding me of the practice builders engaged in whereby they'd arrive and knock out your back wall as agreed and then they'd disappear for several weeks. They were knocking out back walls hither and yon for a while before they returned to you and began building the extension as per contract. His point was that if the builder began a job, he had to begin several others to ensure continuity of work. That, according to my scribe, is what the city corporation boys are at with the blasted potholes.
It is known as a "Schedule of Works," and without it, they risk appearing overstaffed and underworked. They require a list as long as your arm for plausible deniability y'see. No point being in guaranteed employment if you can't point to a back-breaking schedule. The poor bastards sound like they're rushed off their feet, I observed wryly. But my man wasn't having any sarcasm. "We're all on our own nowadays, he told me, and each must look after his own.
So if you find yourself on the Cork ring road going somewhere nice and your front wheel explodes, well, thank you for providing local employment, (for LIFE!).
UPDATE: The week before last the bridge referred to above was closed for two days and three nights to facilitate resurfacing. Where the holes were there are now bumpy mounds but these will be flattened over the summer months by large trucks and buses. The first frosts of winter will then begin cracking the surface all over again and by early next year we will be back dodging the potholes.
Marvelous, isn't it?