Michigan — March 22, 2011 at 6:50 am

Society winding down


Ever get the feeling that society is winding down, like an unwound clock?

Here’s what I mean:

Road-crunching trumps repaving in more counties

LANSING — Half of Michigan’s 83 counties are expected to turn paved roads to gravel this year due to insufficient funding — three times the number from 2007.

Before 2007, only 12 counties had converted paved roads into gravel, according to the County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM).

In 2009, 38 moved to gravel roads because of costs.

Today, CRAM estimates that have chosen gravel instead of repaving to keep roads safe and cost-efficient.

CRAM public relations specialist Monica Ware said counties prefer not to return roads to gravel, but without enough funding, unsafe crumbling roads must be reconstructed.

“We’re left with no choice but to unfortunately go back to gravel,” she said.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were driving in Detroit on John R Road, a few blocks south of Eight Mile. Yeah, that’s Eminem’s old stomping grounds and, frankly, not a very happy (or safe) place to be at 10:30 p.m. I hit a huge pothole trying to avoid another one that I actually saw. A block past the pothole, a cab had pulled over and was checking his tire. Sure enough, a block after that, my car went wobbly. The pothole had blown out my front tire and bent both the back and front rims.

We pulled over to assess the situation. My wife tried to call AAA but was put on hold for over 10 minutes, nobody available to answer our call, apparently. I finally decided to just change the tire myself. While I was doing it, I saw only two people the entire time.

It was a dead zone. No cars. No pedestrians. No marauding gangs of threatening youth, the kind Detroit has become known for. Nobody. Completely desolate.

It felt like being in a movie where all the people in a city suddenly vanish or a post-apocalyptic story where there’s nothing left but empty streets and abandoned buildings.

And now over 40 counties in our state are turning paved roads into gravel because they don’t have the funds to cover their maintenance.

Society, winding down. Well, at least business taxes will be low.

I’m just sayin’…