Road crews ready to clean up

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Most people go about their everyday lives without giving much thought to what is necessary to make their days run routinely and smoothly.

Although most citizens are prone to complain about a few bumps on the road, they aren't too eager to give a pat on the back to those who smooth

out the rough spots along the way.

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With Hurricane Ivan bearing down on the Florida Panhandle and threatening to dump tons of water on South Alabama and blow away everything that's not anchored in stone, the work those unsung heroes do will come into play.

Those who keep the power on, the streets clear and flood waters away will surely become heroes if Ivan makes landfall in a way that will impact Pike County.

On Monday afternoon, crews were on Academy Street making upgrades to the city street. However, the upgrades have nothing to do with the city's preparation for the hurricane, said Leo Calhoun, a contract engineer working with APAC of Andalusia.

"This street improvement project started in July with 10 included," he said. "We still have about six more inlets to do and some manholes and valves. Just how long will it take - well, that depends a lot on the weather."

The improvements to the city streets that have been completed will benefit many Troy residents, especially, during times when Mother Nature is an angry lady.

"What happens with a project like this one is that we replace the inlets that were installed in the 1930s and 1940s with large and more efficient inlets," Calhoun said. "That will improve storm drainage and make the streets much safer."

Calhoun said the old inlets were built straight up and could cause an accident if a motorist accidentally got too close to the curb and hit one.

"They way these new inlets are built, if you get too close to the curb at the site of an inlet, then you could just run right out of it," he said. "Safety is the main reason for the improvements and, of course, new inlets will let the water run off the streets much faster."

In addition to the new inlets to accommodate water runoff, the elevation of the street was lowered by two inches on Academy Street.

"We took off three inches of asphalt and put back one," Calhoun said. "That also increases the flow of water off the street."

If the rains come in torrents, Troy residents will benefit from the recent improvements that have been made to city streets.

Calhoun said, in the areas where the 50-year-old inlets have been replaced, the water will run off the streets much faster and not be standing knee-deep in the low-lying areas. At times of heavy, sustained rains, storm drainage is an important safety and traffic movement consideration.

Calhoun said he is impressed by the high quality of workmanship of those who work on street improvement crews.

"There are some really sharp people out here and they are doing good work," he said.

Calhoun said he enjoys working with street construction crews and draws on his experience with the state highway department as project engineer.

"After I retired from the state, I wanted to keep busy," he said. "I like being involved in projects like this that are so beneficial to the citizens of a town. Safety is always the first consideration. Take this job, the inlets are constructed with only a narrow opening but, if some way a small child or a dog or cat happened to fall into it, we have a manhole on the top where someone could get down in there and get them out."

Calhoun said public works people are proud of the job they do and feel good knowing that when a disaster happens, a job well done means others may weather the storm a little easier.