Those who are afraid to pay taxes for the up-keep of their communities make the news……and it is pretty short-sighted.
Ever since the invention of the automobile, paved roads have meant progress. Now some cash-strapped towns and counties are finding progress too expensive, and they are tearing up battered roads and putting down gravel.
The high price of pavement and the sour economy have driven municipalities in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Vermont to roll up the asphalt — a mile here, a few miles there, mostly on back roads — rather than repave.
Some drivers don’t like it and warn of danger ahead, including mud, dust and damage to their cars.
“It kind of looks like we’re going a step back rather than a step forward,” admitted Randy Stearns, who heads the road commission in Montcalm County, Mich., which this year turned more than 10 miles of pavement into gravel.
But supporters say that gravel roads are cheaper to maintain and can be just fine in lightly traveled parts of the countryside.
Besides, to some people, dirt roads recall a simpler time when life was slower and folks knew their neighbors. (You know, the time before penicillin!)
David Speicher of Bangor, Mich., led a successful petition drive to prevent his road from being torn up. He said gravel roads tend to beat up cars, and the dust in the summer would make it impossible for him to hang his clothes outside to dry.
The road also would be impassable in the wet spring and fall, he said.
“We wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere because the muck wouldn’t have been able to hold our cars up,” he said.