Tar, alerts and the bright side of a wet spring
Tar, tar and feathers, and fireflies are just some of the topics that are keeping tongues wagging these days. Tar is uppermost in the minds of the masses as it seems that asphalt is being applied everywhere one drives this summer. Tar and feathers, in a figurative sense, are being debated as a means to silence the whiners who complain about Amber Alerts. And fireflies are uncommonly abundant this summer because of that horrible wet spring.
This must be a record year for road construction. Everywhere you go you will encounter detours or lane reductions. Flag persons, orange and black striped pylons and flashing warning signs have become almost as ubiquitous as poison parsnip.
Road scholars are able to explain the various methods being employed to rebuild our routes.
One of the techniques you have no doubt seen in action is Cold In-Place Recycling or CIR, described as “a pavement rehabilitation technique that reduces the life cycle cost of the pavement structure by reusing the existing asphalt pavement.”
The procedure uses reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) that is mixed with a new binder which may be either emulsion or foamed asphalt cement. The cold nature of the process reduces the impact on the environment and preserves energy due to the absence of heat application.
“Because the existing road materials are being re-used, very little new material has to be brought in by truck, reducing the carbon footprint of the project drastically in comparison to conventional methods,” Miller Paving Limited assures the public in a message to the “valued residents” of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry.
Rapid curing of the recycled material allows the road to remain unaffected by traffic prior to being overlaid with hot mix.
CIR is considered the most effective process to mitigate reflective cracking in a cold climate and is widely utilized as a cost effective rehabilitation alternative to traditional reconstruction methods due to its comparatively low cost, higher life cycle and ease of construction.
Roads are always a hot topic, thus, there is always debate over matters such as the merits of asphalt pavement versus concrete pavement, the use of flag people versus traffic lights, the rationale between reducing lanes versus total road closures.
But, despite the inconveniences, everyone would agree that the smell of tar and the proliferation of detours are welcome signs that our infrastructure is being improved, and nobody would disagree with any form of upgrade.
Consensus is more elusive, however, when it comes to Amber Alerts. Everyone has at one time or another been jarred awake in the middle of the night by that ear-splitting bulletin blaring news of a child being abducted. It was set up as a voluntary, co-operative plan between radio and television stations, government departments and police. But in recent years, the system expanded to include social media and cell phones, etc.
The system is activated when a law enforcement agency believes a child under 18 years of age has been abducted, believes the child is in danger and that an immediate broadcast alert will help in locating the child.
That is all very fine and sensible. Yet, many people get very, very upset when they are startled from their slumber by a message that could help save an innocent youngster’s life.
Plus, the sleep-deprived also question the validity of a provincewide all-points bulletin when they are far removed from the sight of the abduction. “Brantford! Brantford? Some kid is kidnapped in Brantford? Why am I getting this message?” Many people who do not live anywhere near Brantford were angrily asking that question when an alert from police in that Ontario town was issued.
One person called 9-1-1 no less than 11 times to complain about the annoyance.
While police investigated this abuse of 9-1-1, an online petition was launched against the whiners.
Go to change.org to see the call for punishing people who call the emergency line to gripe about emergency alerts.
While you are there you can also take a stand on protests against the misappropriation of a Swahili phrase in a movie, the sale of elephant ivory and calls for mandatory seatbelts in school buses.
You could join the more than 100,000 people who are asking Premier Doug Ford to enact legislation to fine those who make frivolous grievances to the 9-1-1 centre.
Petition organizer Dalia Monacelli, of Toronto, states: “People have to understand that when they dial 9-1-1, they are taking time and personnel away from actual emergencies and that these actions could cost lives! Please, take a moment to sign this petition and make sure these non-emergency callers get fined for their crime!”
Crime? Really? Non-emergency callers are definitely not role models. But they cannot be classified as criminals because they over-react to a loud phone message.
Look at the big picture. The alerts are well-intentioned. No, the authorities are not conspiring to ruin your life by blasting out random nerve-wracking sirens at all hours of the day and night.
The alerts are meant to disturb people. Harp music cannot accompany Amber Alerts.
So, suck it up. Deal with the occasional inconvenience. And if you are disturbed in the middle of the night, go for a relaxing walk.
During the heat wave, nothing soothes the soul more than a leisurely outing in the cool evening air.
If you are lucky, you will see one of the countless numbers of fireflies that are particularly abundant this year.
Consider yourself especially fortunate if you can take that stroll on a freshly paved, detour-free, road.