My Generation

Saturation Level Reached on Rural Roads

Plenty of snow, rain and another inch of rainfall over the weekend are wreaking havoc on gravel roads.

I had a "first" today: for the first time in 12 years, I had to use the 4WD on my truck just to get out of our road. The mud is so bad, and the road has heaved so terribly in the middle, that even the load of rock they brought in last week isn't cutting it. Now we drive off to the side of the middle heave, cutting deep ruts in the ditch bank and saying a little prayer that we don't keep sinking.

It all started a couple weeks ago, when the middle of the dead-end road we live on started heaving up. Closer inspection showed that our culverts were sinking down in the middle, too, because the saturated ground beneath them was giving way. And it's just as bad around the corner, on the main road, where the mud just gets deeper. It's a spot that's given to be soft anyway, but our record rainfalls and snowfalls of this winter and spring are not doing it any favors.

And we're not alone. Even the Peoria news came out to document a situation near Cuba, where the roads are so bad that it's hurting a local Amish community. The road commissioner there posted the roads for 12,000 pounds, which keeps the milk truck away from its normal route to an Amish dairy.

It is, in short, life in the country, though I can't remember it being this bad before on as many of the main rural roads as it is this spring. So far, the mail lady and the bus driver are still willing to make a go of it, and we're crossing our fingers that, if the need arose, so would the fire department and ambulance.

I'm reminded of a news clip I caught on CNN last fall, where some guy was spouting all the ways to fix our gas-guzzling society. One of his ideas, of course, was a heavy tax on SUVs and trucks, to "encourage" people to drive fuel-efficient vehicles. I'd sure like to see him and his Prius make it down our road this spring. He might learn really quickly why some of us actually need four-wheel drive.

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