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'The Blob' is a poor way to patch roads

June 22, 2008|By Lloyd Waters

Have you read recently that the surface of the track at the Mike Callas stadium at North Hagerstown High is too hard to run on? And no one wants to talk about the issue. Know why?

Probably because it's going to cost a lot of money to make it soft enough to use and local government might have to foot the bill. That means you and me digging a little deeper to correct the situation.

The track at the Dargan School back in the '60s had the same problem, so we just took off our shoes to run around and pretty soon the callouses on our feet made running without shoes feel a lot better than running with shoes. Wait a minute, we didn't have a track ...

I guess my arthritic knees, in afterthought, could have been prevented with a soft track. Only problem, no politician was willing to fund a track for the Dargan kids. Darn, left behind again.

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I have a suggestion which might remedy the Callas Stadium problem. Perhaps a little tar-and-chip might correct the track surface. It sure has helped on Mills and Trego roads.

If anyone takes a ride on these roads, they will certainly appreciate the soft surfaces caused by the gooey, alienblood-like asphalt, weeping up through the small stones.

I figure pretty soon macadam roads will be extinct anyway and our county is ahead of the times in that regard.

If those North End folks don't mind a little tar and chip on their carpets from the students' shoes, I know this process will be better and more cost effective than the planned fix for the Callas stadium track.

Perhaps President Barr of the Washington County Commissioners might want to get out his "hog" (motorcycle) one Sunday afternoon and head on down through a piece of history (Antietam) to examine firsthand the result of government spending on the tar and chip roads.

If anyone sees him, tell him to be careful on those turns, because loose gravel can be very detrimental to a motorcycle, not to mention one's own individual anatomy.

Better yet, he might also want to bring some "cleaner" for his "hog" with him. That's because when he gets back to town he will want to clean up his bike. He is going to be surprised at what a few 100- degree days will do to a patched tar-and- chip road.

I know, I know, I shouldn't be complaining, and Home Charter Rule would have provided a resolution to this problem.

We could have a referendum under way by now (how many signatures did you need, 5,000?) And in a few months the road problem would have been corrected. But hey, I vote and pay my taxes, so I can complain a little bit, can't I?

When President Barr, or perhaps some of the other County Commissioners get the opportunity to take a first hand look at the tar-and-chip roads, they might conclude that their "cure is worse than the disease." Then again, maybe not.

When I travel down Route 480 in West Virginia, I have noticed that they, too, are patching the holes with macadam but forgoing the tar-and-chip process. This seems to work pretty well. At least the potholes are filled.

Maybe that's another way to maintain roads when you are out of money. Maybe patching and filling the holes with a little macadam works just as well without the tar and chip.

Unfortunately, for me, when I think "tar and chip", I think about one of Steve McQueen's first movies "The Blob" (1958).Remember? "It creeps, it glides, it slides across the floor" and "nothing can stop it." Maybe it is a mindset, maybe it's a nightmare, and maybe I just don't like tar and chip - but it sure reminds me a lot of the Blob.

Many of the people who travel these tar-and-chip roads are not happy with the process either. Can't we just patch the holes and forego the other problems associated with tar and chip? Come on, President John, let's send the blob packing.

P.S. ... Hope the fix at the Callas Stadium works better than the fix on Mills and Trego Roads.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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