Sunday, March 02, 2008

Another weird little driving hazard in this, the weirdest of Madison winters

Bouncing off the Artificial Ice Terrace
I was driving north on Allen Street yesterday. Like all of Madison's streets, it's narrowed by the snow, and as a car approached on the left I moved slightly to the right to give it room. That's when something suddenly nudged the car back to the left, toward the other car. I was going slowly, and it was just a gentle nudge -- nothing I couldn't control. If I had been going faster, it might have been a problem, but it wasn't.

Nevertheles, it's a weird, offbeat little mini-hazard in this weirdest of winters, and I thought I'd pass it on in case you haven't encountered it yet. What happened was that I bounced off a second, pseudo "curb" made of ice extending several feel out from the real curb, whch is buried under the accumulating snow. And it's easy to miss it, because it's not something you expect to be here.

It's a byproduct of the city street crews' effort to remove snow and ice from city streets. I don't mean to suggest they're doing anything wrong -- far from it. It's just a byproduct of their necessary work. The photo at right illustrated this a bit more clearly. As you can see, on streets like Allen Street, where they actually did succeed in carving away the accumulated ice and snow down to bare pavement, there's an ice terrace that extends from the side of the road out to where the plows cut away the ice. The edge is as sharp and vertical as a curb, between two and three inches high. Again, you don't expect it to be there. If you bump into it, which is easy to do because you're far from the real side of the road, it will bump back. And if it happens when the roads have refrozen and become slick, it could start a real skid.

Just passing it on.


Dr Bud "This Lane Ends" Diablo said...

MadGuy, I think you should devote your blog solely to the hazards of the Madison roadways. That's the direction in which it seems to be evolving; you have already IDed and photographed man of the trouble spots. Call it DEAD AHEAD: A Survivor's Guide to Madison Streets. In time, no one will dream of leaving home without checking here for an updated report.

Reader participation would certainly facilitate the effort, and I will volunteer to cover Monona Drive from Michael's Frozen Custard south to Taco Bell on East Broadway, mapping out all the potholes. Right now, its surface is so rutted that it gives the motorist an idea of what it was like to guide a prairie schooner along the Oregon Trail, although I don't think the Oregon Trail featured as many places to stop for a Sno-Cone, Slushee, or what have you.

This summer, when the Streets Dept turns its attention to these hazards, we can switch to bitching about all the construction delays.

Madison Guy said...

Thank you, Dr Bud "This Lane Ends" Diablo, for volunteering to be the Monona Drive Road Hazard Spotter for Letter from Here. I would forward you a special Road Hazard Deputy silver plated star and other credentials, but our budget has been cut. But LFH appreciates any and all hazard reports. Keep 'em coming.