It’s Time! Annual WV Highway Department Screwing

It happens every year. It’s been happening every year since I have lived in these parts.

The Highway Department waits until fall when the brush is already well on the way to dying back, and then spends days out on the road mowing the road sides. We have never determined exactly WHY they wait until mowing is no longer necessary…

Be alert on the main roads! They are running two brush hogs in order to waste even more time and money, and just because you see a “flagman ahead” sign on the road side does not mean that there is actually a flag man. It also means that IF there is any road work being done, you may end up driving as many as four miles before you actually come to the place they are “working”. Usually directly around a blind curve, and long after you have given up on finding them.

And then there is the “grader”. I’ve spent enough time living on back country roads in WV to be quite familiar with the dramatically mistaken idea that a road can be “fixed” by using a grader on it. A grader is usually the machine used in the CONSTRUCTION of NEW roads. It’s the thing that makes the dirt level BEFORE they start putting on the toppings (gravel, tar, pavement).

Well, it must also be the cheapest piece of machinery to own and run, because in WV it has become the “fix-all” for back roads. Unfortunately, over and over again, these grader drivers show up either right before a heavy rain, (or at 8:00am when some folks are still sleeping) or they simply stir up all the loose rocks, gravel, boulders, broken glass, tree branches, or whatever else is there and deposit them in the middle of the road for everyone to navigate around.

Many times, and so far this is still holding true, they totally neglect to clean out the ditch lines, but continue to grade and pile dirt up alongside the road (in the ditch too) until the road is actually LOWER than the ditches, and in some cases lower than the creek. So, what we now have in THIS neck of the woods is a road which will surely become impassable in a month or two. The road, with a couple good healthy rains, will soon become the creek bed. It already resembles one. Even more so now that they “graded” it.

Has anyone noticed how the rivers are filling up with silt and creating more and more flooding each year? Some blame the timber companies, some blame the oil and gas drillers. But those things are small potatoes compared to the destruction created by the highway department with those graders.

They grade a road. They loosen all the rocks and surface dirt. Most of West Virginia is on a hill. It rains. The loose dirt runs downhill, turning to mud, and ending up in the creek. The loose rocks and the boulders the grader driver tried to cover up get even worse once the loose dirt washes off the road. All that loose dirt ends up in the creeks, and is washed into the rivers. Multiply that by EVERY dirt road in West Virginia.

Strange how those who have worked for the highway department for years have no clue how to use their machinery nor how to fix a road. So, let’s have a lesson, shall we? From someone who has NEVER worked for any highway department, but had to spend inordinant amounts of time FIXING what they mess up.

1. Water runs to the lowest point. Always.

2. Ditches are supposed to convey water from one point to another. They are not for growing grass in, nor are they containers for the surplus dirt and rocks the grader stirs up.

3. If you place a wall of dirt alongside both sides of a road, it makes NO PLACE for the water to go except down the road. DUH.

4. The large limestone gravel is meant to be used as a BASE, after the road has been smoothed. Not as the finished product. And large limestone rock rolls out of pot holes and downhill into the lowest place, same as water. Driving up a steep hill on loose limestone rock becomes a challenge, as the rock rolls under your tires. It is NOT suitable for steep hills.

5. The SMALLER gravel is meant to be used as the topping. It fills in the spaces in between the large gravel, and PACKS into place. This makes the road SMOOTHER.

6. Scraping away the road makes the road LOWER. Building the road UP by using the appropriate materials makes the road HIGHER. Making the road HIGHER means the water will drain off better.

7. Cleaning out the ditches will  give the water someplace to go besides down the road, or down someone’s driveway.

8. The soil here is mostly red clay. Red clay gets SLIPPERY when wet. If you scrape ALL the grass off the roadsides, especially the places where the grader has “graded” the road towards the downhill side, there is nothing left there to give vehicles traction enough to hold them on the road during bad road conditions. Scraping away everything but the smooth red clay from the downhill side of a road could cause serious accidents during the winter months.

9. Seeing how the highway department only gets 15 feet right of way from the center on these back roads, a refresher course in using a tape measure would be appropriate, as anything over that would be considered TRESPASSING and PROPERTY DESTRUCTION.

A tape measure would, at this time, reveal a large number of trespassing and destruction of property areas.

Now, we keep hearing about how the WV highway department is strapped for money and had to sell off necessary machinery to get money. And how they can’t even afford to fill all their positions. And how they sometimes have to call back RETIRED workers to get things done. So, WHY is the highway department WASTING money and man-hours, and making the roads WORSE instead of better? Did you pay your taxes so that folks could wreck their cars and be stranded this winter due to bad roads? Gimme a break!!!