Monday, August 9, 2010

Why, that’s just swale

The Great Lincoln Street Re-paving Project of 2010 is all over but the shouting. Barricades come down today, grand opening ceremony Thursday. We are all now free to move around the cabin

Hot damn! After five post-apocalyptic months of living next to the film set of “The Road,” it looks good.

Sadly, I did not capture any “before” photos of Lincoln prior to its rehabilitation, which began last March. There were two reasons for this: (1) I was sitting on my butt with my right foot elevated over my head following foot surgery. (Cheer up. You got artsy shots of my dog and crutches instead.) And (2) acquiring said photos would’ve required helmets and safety harnesses and many people with ropes, carabiners, crampons and pitons and numerous other “-ons” because the potholes and cravasses pocking the street were so large and dangerous that Volkswagens, Vespas and small family pets went missing almost every day, tumbling into the abyss never to be seen again

Even if you did manage to dodge the potholes and crevasses and actually got on the road, you were in for neck-snapping, denture-rattling ride up or down the street. It’s sort of how I imagine driving is in Afghanistan.

Public safety and dental fillings aside, our street re-paving project is unique for another reason. It has swales. Uh huh, that’s what I’m sayin’. Swales

Webster’s New College Dictionary says a swale is a “low tract of marshy land.” Lincoln Street, not so much.

Our swales are actually low-lying concrete planters jutting about two feet out into the street. Filled with lovely native plants and grasses, they serve two purposes so says the City of Bermtopia: First, the swales will filter rainwater run-off and channel it down to Cannon Hill Pond, thereby reducing the amount of tap water needed to keep the pond full. Second, the swales are there to “calm traffic.

We’ll see about that.

You see, there is no real rhyme nor reason to the layout of the swales. One minute you’re driving down big, wide, smooth Lincoln Street, then up pops a swale and the street suddenly narrows. I can see how this “calms traffic,” encouraging us all to drive a little more slowly as we navigate up and down Lincoln. I can also see how it's going to get interesting, especially as the days get shorter, the streets darker, and god help me, the snow begins to fly.

That's when we’ll see whether the road to hell is paved with good intentions – or with swales.

But for now, who knows? Why borrow trouble? We’ve got ourselves a brand-new street. And cool landscaping. That someone else is going to care for.

Can’t complain. Everything's just swale.

P.S. Not all swales are created equal. This bad boy is just up the street from us. Compare and contrast.

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