Loose Chippings

Michigan license plate from 2008

Image via Wikipedia

It’s that fun time of year again – when road commissioners everywhere decide to allow ordinary citizens to participate in road repairs. Yes, paying taxes and license plate fees is just not enough – we really need to get our hands dirty and get in there to help, to appreciate the complexity of keeping our roads in good repair. No longer just bystanders, we’re allowed to experience the intricacies of road maintenance first hand. Great!

And so, we enter the season of loose chippings. Probably most of you know how this works. The road repair crews go around with a big tanker truck of tar, and a big truck of tiny loose stones, aka chippings, usually to rural and less-traveled roads, but in my area recently, I’ve even seen this done on main city streets. They spread the hot tar on the roads, then spread a layer of chippings on top. Then, here’s where ordinary citizens are asked to chip in. We drive our cars on this tarry, stony mess, and use our wheel power to drive the chippings into the tar, until they become a pavement of sorts. Sometimes this takes awhile if it’s a less traveled road. You never want to be the first person down the road right after the chippings are applied, and you definitely don’t want to be biking down said mess. The stones whip up into your wheel wells and the tar spatters onto the lower part of your chassis. Other cars throw the stones up onto your cars, making a generalized mess and sometimes breaking or chipping windshields. Yes, it’s an exciting time for everyone – the road commissioner gets to save money by buying tar and stones, instead of actual black top, and we citizens get to do our civic duty to keep our roads going. And thanks to the crummy economy, chances are we’ll get even more opportunities to do our part to keep the roads repaired. What’s not to like about this?