For a quick education in how an old road is made ready for the new, I just had to look out the window.
The massive orange monster pulled out and lumbered on up the road toward the beginning, I presume, of the work stretch. Later in the day, I began to hear a rumbling. Then a roaring, then a deep throaty grind as though something had decided to chew on the very bedrock we stood upon. Eventually, a broad orange snout came into view, followed by the rest of the creature. Inching along, barely appearing to move, the monster inexorably crept forward, devouring the old pavement in front of it, leaving behind a broad, thick swathe of loose, ground up asphalt which looked like a neatly laid gravel bed. Inside the stout steel guards curtaining round the part where the monster bit into the road, there must have been great rolls of grinding teeth too terrible for public view.
So that’s how it’s done with nary a dump truck needed.
After the monster follow the graders and rollers, like attendant servants, worked the ground up asphalt into a smooth, hard surface much like the few gravel roads still found in the backwoods. As the hungry behemoth rolled, only one lane of traffic remained open. At each end of the work stretch stood the familiar fellow holding the “Stop” sign with “Slow” on the other side. In between another lucky dude had the job of driving a pickup truck back and forth all day, each time leading an obedient file of cars safely past the monster and the graders in the single open lane.
The orange monster slowly crawled from sight. Then, much later, appeared again, this time grinding up the opposite lane. When it had finally passed, the rollers set to work in earnest, joined by two graders, all bent on finessing the road surface into a kind of ballroom levelness that sported no dip or hollow. They weren’t satisfied until quitting time when the crews went home, leaving us with a nubbled surface spitting up dust and pebbles at passing cars.
The pavement chewer boarded the huge truck that hauled it and went home too. It can sleep, dreaming of its day long asphalt feast. I look at the gravel road and hope we won’t be left to drive on its dusty, stony back all winter.