Repaving Smith Street, Part II
[Like Monday's, this is a post filled with pix of heavy machinery remaking a bit of Newark. If you are not a little kid at heart (think Bob the Builder but American, not British), or a construction worker in office-worker clothing, you may want to skip today's entry and come back tomorrow. It is also extremely long. I won't state a figure in words lest it scare every single visitor away, but I will give the number of fotos: 30. It's OK with me if you just look at the pictures, because I am as much a fotografer now as writer.]
When I was reconnoitering places from which to take pix for today's fotoblog entry, I saw something I didn't know had occurred: a house on the southern end of my (very long) block had been seriously damaged by fire.
I hadn't been aware of a fire in my area, so wonder when it happened, and whether I was home when the firemen battled the blaze.
This entry caused me enormous organizational problems, because I needed to consider how to integrate so many fotos with text. Ordinarily, I start with a theme, and choose fotos to illustrate that theme. But here, there is both a theme (the repaving project) and a sequence in which I took the many pictures I made that day (fewer than half of which I show here). Each of the fotos I use has its own purpose, and helps to make specific points that I felt I needed to discuss. To go thematic, I would have to use pix from scattered points in the sequence, which became confusing very fast. I only recently figured out how to keep track, during the drafting process, of which pix I have already used in a given blog entry. I created a "Used" subdirectory below my "Future" (blogpix) directory, and move each foto to the Used directory as I assign it a place in the draft. But then I saw I was going to have 30 pix for this entry, and they would not, thematically, retain the sequence in which I took them. How was I going to name the fotos as to be able to find the right one for the point in the text at which I needed it? And if I were to use a foto to illustrate one point, but there are other points it raises, I risk losing those further points in sticking to the theme of the particular place in the text into which I place it, or disrupting the thematic flow of the text to discuss those other points.
Often, the City tears down at least abandoned houses that are destroyed by fire, in order that they not be an eyesore — or gathering place for squatters, or drug addicts — that drags the neighborhood down. In that this house is only partially destroyed, perhaps the City, at the owner's insistence, has held off from ordering demolition. It may be possible for the owner to sell the current structure to a developer who might build two new houses on one wide plot, as was done in two other places in the immediate vicinity. Who knows? The developer might even turn over one of the new structures to the owner of the present, partly burned house as part of the transaction.
I had to create two different text drafts, one thematic, one sequential, and integrate them. Not easy. I also had to rename, sequentially, all fotos that I had earlier named thematically. If this blog entry doesn't seem to hang together thematically, you now know why. If you can, please just enjoy the pix and the descriptions by each. If the theme doesn't hold together, that's the approach that had to be sacrificed, if for no other reason than that the sequence of fotos shows the order in which I took them in walking about, as allowed me to remember events and the thoughts they prompted, more clearly. This organizational/reorganizational problem delayed this blog entry by three days. I had other topics I might have used in the interim, but not energy enuf to create brief entries as fill-in, and decided that rather than put something up just to have an-entry-a-day, I would simply not put up anything until I was ready. This is not, after all,"Newark USA Daily", and updating it every day is not my "job". If I were paid (well) to do it, I would put up an-entry-a-day, with one or more pictures, without fail. But it's not my job and I'm not paid, so I get to things when I get to them. When you reach my age, 63 a week from now, there's only one "dead"line that matters. And we'll all meet it. (Teehee.)
When I finished with Monday's entry to this fotoblog, the next day's lite was advancing, and I chanced to see, again, posters on the trees along my street, as suggested that the second stage of the repaving of my block was going to take place later that day. I got to sleep at my customary preposterous hour (around 7am; and to think that I had, for a while, been doing so well at resetting my sleep cycle earlier!), and was afraid the (re)pavers would be at work early in the day, so I wouldn't get much sleep, since I wanted to see and fotograf the process. Fortunately, they apparently did at least two blocks today, my very long block (over 1,000 feet), and the next one north. They may have done as far as to South Orange Avenue, two further blocks and over a quarter mile away. In any case, they didn't get to my area early.
I was wakened shortly before 1pm by what I thought was one of those dratted, oversensitive car alarms that are constantly going off for no reason (and which the City must ban). But this was a weird one, with a siren of sorts and other strange noises. It would go off for half a minute or more, then turn off. (Hm. "Go off" has two opposed meanings, one to start, the other to stop. It's sort of a reverse linguistic pair to "flammable" and "inflammable", which look opposed but mean the same thing.) Then there would be a short delay before it started again. I looked out my bedroom window and saw that the owner of one car had not heeded the warning that an emergency condition rendered the entire block a Towaway Zone, and the repavers were courteously trying to alert the owner to come out and move his/her car. This went on repeatedly over a period of a quarter hour or more, which ensured that I would not go back to sleep but was awake after less than 6 hours' sleep.
I peered out the window to see if there were any sign of paving equipment, but saw none. Still, there was that pesky car in the way. The owner did not come out to move it. So-o-o-o ...
I think I saw that car, which I believe is ordinarily driven by a heavyset woman who has trouble walking, back in the driveway of the pink house well after dark tonite. I hope the fees weren't severe, because a handicapped woman might have had very good reasons for not moving her car.
It's not as tho no warning was given. If you should see a line of posters telling you that the next day no one may park on your block, pay attention.
Since stripping the pavement away had taken three passes of the milling machine, I figured that even if I missed the first run of the paver, I could catch the second or third. The paver actually took only two passes to lay down the new surface. As I stepped out onto my porch, which is 16 steps up from the curb (my house is on a slope, above traffic), I looked to the left and saw this. All the vehicles you can see are part of the repaving project, since other vehicles were banned.
The project involved four types of machine: a paver; dump trucks to feed the paver; an oil(?) tanker truck, the purpose of which was not clear to me, since I didn't see it used to oil the surface or do anything else; and what we used to call "steam"rollers, a big one (daddy?) and little one (baby). I suppose that in Atlantic City they could be called High Roller and Low Roller, but this is Newark. Aside from the vehicles plainly required for the paving project, the mechanical streetsweeper was also involved. Ordinarily it cleans only the east side of the street on Tuesdays, but today it did more.
The lite was so bad today, especially as late as it was when the paving machine got to my house, that I felt I had to take more than one picture of a lot of things, one with flash, one without, just to be sure of getting one usable picture. The fotos of the first phase of this repaving project were also taken on a cloudy day.
It's not that I expected flash to illuminate machinery 50 feet from the camera but rather that I needed visually to stop moving objects by quickening the shutter speed. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it made the foto unusably dark. In a few instances, it hilited the reflective stripes on a worker's clothing, while leaving everything else dark! But you cannot know these things until you experiment.
I have always been a little annoyed by those scenes in movies in which a fotografer with an auto-advance winder in his camera takes foto after foto after foto in quick succession, of something that hasn't moved, either at all, or very far. I thought then and think now that such profligately needless duplication is obscenely wasteful in a world of want. In the digital age, however, there is no film nor energy for film-processing to waste if you take two pix of the same subject with two settings, one with and the other without flash. In time, I hope to learn, with confidence, what does and does not work, as not, thereafter, to need to take protection shots. But this was a one-time event that might not be repeated for many years, so I played safe.
I sorted out all the extraneous pix before I even started to post fotos to today's blog entry. Fortunately, my HP notebook computer with an AMD Athlon chip is fast. My Dell desktop, with a Pentium 4, is intolerably SLO-O-O-O-O-W. It can take 3 minutes to process one foto on the Dell, against 20 seconds on my HP. I recommend you never buy Dell unless you don't need a fast machine. (I worked, as word processor, for the attorneys for AMD when they were sued by Intel for having stolen proprietary information in developing their own core processors, but AMD was legally unassailable in that they produced a better chip than the Intel chip they had been hired to produce for Intel when Intel's own plants couldn't handle Intel's order load.)
Straight ahead (oh, sorry; that should be "directly" ahead; I'm gay, and we prefer not to write "straight" too often) was this view, of a dumptruck with a cover over its contents on a mechanical retractor that, like the device on a convertible car, moves the top out of the way when the driver so decides.
That's "my yew" to the left and an English-ivy-covered evergreen to the right of my stairs. I always have something green outside my windows. I walked down the steps and across the street to get a different perspective on the other dumptrucks lining up all the way south to 18th Avenue.
I then walked to 18th Avenue to see if I could get a long view of all the many pieces of equipment arrayed on my block. As I got to the corner, yet another dumptruck was backing up into waiting position. Smith Street is a one-way street, south. The repaving project need not, I suppose, have kept that same direction, but did. Oddly, rather than driving down Silver Street, at the north end of my block, and driving forward, to the south, the trucks went to 18th Avenue and backed up. I don't know why.
This is the view from 18th Avenue. All of the trucks are part of the repaving project. I suspect this is the most traffic this block has ever had. Ordinarily, if we get 50 cars an hour, especially at nite, that's a traffic jam.
Once they parked, the drivers got out to stretch their legs and socialize. I asked one driver who had just come out of his cab, what was in the dump truck. "Asphalt." "New or recycled?" "New." That sounded wasteful, since only fifteen days before, the city's contractor, Rockborn (which seems not to have a website; I wanted to tell them about these two blog entries and ask for corrections of anything I got wrong), had ripped up the entire block's asphalt and carted it away. Used asphalt can be recycled, so why wouldn't that very pavement have been recycled back onto the street from which it was taken?
There were a lot of dumptrucks on hand, their loads covered against the weather. When the trucks were parked, most (all?) continued to run their engines, as tho they contained an electric heater to keep the asphalt from hardening, tho I don't see how that could have been, unless these dumptrucks were very specially configured.
I encountered another driver who had just descended from the cab, and asked him if his truck contained new or recycled asphalt. His answer was different: both. I asked the percentage of recycled material. He didn't know, so asked the next trucker who pulled alongside, someone he knew well. That driver said that they are permitted to use up to 15% of recycled asphalt. I asked, why not more? He speculated that perhaps it didn't compáct as well as new, but didn't know for sure. When he said "compáct", I thought, "So there's a steamroller too." But I had, months ago, checked whether there was still such a thing as a "steam shovel" or "steamroller", so asked if these things are still called "steamrollers". The first driver said they're just called "rollers" now. (I had found that "power shovel" was the term for "steam shovel" now, and I thought "power roller" was the equivalent of "steamroller", tho I see "road roller" in Wikipedia now.) I said they were called "steamrollers" when I was a child. He smiled broadly and said I was dating myself.
I said that just over two weeks had passed since the old pavement was stripped away, and asked if he knew why there was such a delay between stripping of old pavement and laying of new. He did not.
He did, however, say that I could rollerskate on my block tonite (because the ruf surface of the past two weeks would be smoothly paved away by day's end). Alas, I cannot rollerskate anymore, due to knee surgeries. But I do, somewhere, still have a pair of black, boot rollerskates. I also have a bicycle my brother Alan gave me when he moved West that I also cannot use. Hm. Maybe I should give them away to a community organization for kids or teens. Suggestions? This would be a good time to give, no?
I then walked back north on Smith Street, past my house, to where a dump truck was feeding the hopper of the paving machine. In this next foto, you can see the truck-paver combo and the roller beyond.
The paver itself moves at a pretty good clip, it seemed to me, about as fast as an energetic person walks. Asphalt is pulled by a mechanism I saw only briefly from above but which disappeared beneath closing sides of the hopper before I could take a picture. The mechanism is like a conveyor belt with long, sideways ridges at intervals. Picture a waterwheel at an old mill along a stream, only sideways. This picture shows the asphalt falling into place and being leveled and smoothed by the paver. Some steam or smoke rises from the hot mix. I guess it is indeed hot in the truck, because I don't think there is enuf time that the mix is in the paving machine for it to be heated there.
Moreover, someone had to figure out what depth of asphalt to put around manholes and storm-drain grates, which seemed lower than the 4- or 5-inch height elsewhere. The problems I saw outside Saint Antoninus from the repaving of South Orange Avenue, with a big dip in the pavement at a manhole, did not occur on my block.
How many trucks were needed? You can see a lot from the pictures in this blog entry, but getting an exact number was between hard and impossible. In any event, someone had to do calculations of how much material would be required to lay down a 4- or 5-inch layer of asphalt the entire width of the street for the entire length to be paved today. Teachers! How about creating a math problem for your kids, to do the same calculation to show the real-world applications and importance of even simple arithmetic? How much asphalt, in cubic feet, do you need to pave 1,500 feet of a road 20 feet wide to a depth of 4 inches, minus X number of manholes (of N diameter) and X1 number of storm drain grates N1 by n in size)? How many dumptrucks do you need to employ to provide that much asphalt? If there is a time sensitivity beyond which asphalt in a truck will solidify, how many trucks do you have to have on hand during each hour of the paving process? (Give speed of paver in miles per hour, but length to be paved in feet.) Show your work. Extra credit: if there is no heating element in the dumptrucks to keep the asphalt soft, how much money could the contractor and thus the City of Newark save by having the truck drivers turn off their engine for the entire time they are waiting to dump their load into the paver? Give fuel-consumption figures in minutes of idle, diesel price per gallon. Extra-extra credit: how much pollution does an idling dumptruck pour into the atmosphere? Teachers could go further, if they wanted to do the research necessary to provide data from which kids could make computations. For instance, "Diesel exhaust consists of __% carbon dioxide, __% carbon monoxide, __% SumpinElse, __% SumpinElseStill, and __% water vapor. How much greenhouse gas does an idling dump truck produce in 15 minutes? (That would require kids to know what is and is not a greenhouse gas.) "If the maximum permitted recycled asphalt component of the new paving material is 15%, how many pounds of recycled material per truck is permissible?" Such exercises in real-world computations would show kids how complex the interactions among everyday objects and behaviors on the one side, and larger issues of the environment and resource depletion on the other, are, and how experts try to calculate them. So important are such real-world examples, indeed, that I think educators should schedule field trips to repaving sites and construction sites to make kids think about all the complex calculations that are involved in figuring out how much asphalt is needed for a paving project, or structural steel and rebar (or wood) and concrete are needed for a construction project. Let the kids talk to the architect or engineer, who can give them some raw data they can handle (bearing strength of a given unit of steel or reinforced concrete, times height of a structure, per floor; etc.), as could bring home to them how everything around us depends on math, from recipes, to bridges, to the load-bearing capacity of the ceiling between them and the classroom above their heads.
There are doubtless many kids who think they don't need to know math or science or much of anything else "academic" or "college prep" in order to function in the kinds of jobs they expect to get, and indeed may really want, once they get out of school, things like truck driver and truck dispatcher. If you show them that working for a trucking or construction company isn't necessarily mindless but may require them to use their brain and know math, they may pay more attention in class.
In any case, someone, be s/he in the employ of the prime contractor for this project (Rockborn?) or a subcontractor, did have to do such calculations, and somebody else had to find the equipment and do the scheduling for all those vehicles and drivers. I saw IDs on various trucks/pieces of equipment for various companies (I took fotos, not notes): Group Contracting (Cedar Grove), Dosch King Company, Inc. (Whippany), DVIS (Hoboken), and BTO Enterprises (Belleville). Someone had to contact all these companies, and perhaps others; draw up the contracts; do the scheduling; and get every truck and every load to the right place at the right time.
This next picture shows the asphalt mix pouring from the dumptruck into the hopper of the Caterpillar AP-1055B paver. Within minutes what the dumptruck dumps is dropped onto the street and smoothed by the paver. The 1055B is an older model. The newer model is called 1055D. Used 1055B's can sell for over $300,000. I was unable to find out what a new one costs, because the Caterpillar website doesn't seem to include either pavers or rollers in the categories of equipment you can price online.
Two gents attended the paver in close proximity, one riding on an extension off the back and one alongside, who has a bucket with what appears to be a stream of water pouring into it. I don't know what he is supposed to do with that, but there is apparently a hook built onto the paver for a bucket to hang from, as well as a hook for a shovel to hang from.
This next picture shows the paver approaching a manhole cover. I was very concerned about this because I have had a lot of trouble with tires. My car is low to the ground and has only 15" tires, which do not afford very good protection against sharp depressions in pavement. So I was very concerned that the manholes might be much below the level of new pavement, as one outside Saint Antoninus on South Orange Avenue was left after that street's repaving some months ago. You can see here that the depth of asphalt as it comes out from the paver is greater than the height of the manhole cover. Note that on Smith Street, the paver gets the height just about right, but it puts asphalt on top of the manhole cover that a human laborer then has to scoop off with a shovel while it is still hot.
But (a) a steamroller (yes, I am willfully defying the current terminology! I'm a rebel!) partially compresses the laid-down asphalt that may initially have been too high, (b) a guy with a shovel moves the asphalt that falls on the manhole cover, and (c) another guy, with a rake, smooths things down for either the daddy roller or baby roller to crush into place later.
You can see on the right of that picture some downward-pointing spouts that are at the rear of what looks to be an oil truck. I didn't see that truck actually spread oil across the new pavement, but I did see thin lines of what appeared to be oil on the rough subsurface before the paver reached that area, so maybe the oil is applied beneath the new asphalt. I don't, however, really know.
In the picture below, you can see the paver awaiting the next dump truck. It has to stop its forward progress until refilled, and the sides, which are usually perpendicular to the road surface, close up into a higher angle to dump what remains in the hopper down from the sides to the conveyor mechanism to be laid onto the roadway. Whereas the stripping of old pavement started on my side of the street (near), the actual repaving started on the far side. And the paver was adjusted to pave exactly the right width for two passes, one on each side of the street, meeting perfectly, with no gap and no overlapping. I was impressed, by both the precision of the paver and by the precision of the original workcrews who laid out my street to have a uniform width curb-to-curb. We have been blessed, thru most of our history, to have very good workers at all levels of skill to create the country we live in. The rich who have never done physical labor in their lives do not appreciate that without these "unskilled laborers", they couldn't get from Point A to Point B. Nor could they make a phone call without the guys who set the telephone poles and strung the wires, aboveground or below. Nor could they go to the bathroom or wash their hands without the sewer and water lines these 'nobodies' laid beneath our streets. The rich think they are the be-all and end-all, and everybody else is useless, but the rich couldn't do a damned thing if it weren't for the rest of us who created and maintain the infrastructure without which they would have to have personal generators and latrines. The First World was built by LABOR, not by capital. Capital merely paid Labor. Capital would never dirty its hands to lay pipe or string wire. But without those pipes and wires, all the world is the Third World.
The roller shown here, the Caterpillar CB-534D, is called a "compactor" on the Caterpillar website. Oh, good. We didn't have enuf terms, so needed another.
This next foto shows a manual laborer with a rake (yes, rake, not shovel; and he's wearing a nite vest with reflective areas that my flash hilites in this foto taken very late in the day) working with the 'compactor' to make a smooth seam between another of the things in the roadway that repavers must work around, a stormdrain grate.
Herebelow the man with the rake is followed closely by the 'compactor'.
This next foto shows how strong the stormdrain grate is, in that it survived being rolled over by a 'compactor'.
In addition to the big-daddy (steam)roller/compactor, there was this adorable little baby compactor.
You can see again some steam or smoke rising from the resurfacing. There is a LOT of steam/smoke, some of it so filled with smells that you just know it's got to have components people should not breathe at high concentration. Yet these workers aren't wearing gas masks, or even facemasks of any type to keep out even particulate pollution. Is that safe?
In the next foto, the driver is squirting something from a bottle into the bottom of his truck after he dumped the contents into the paver's hopper. I don't know what it is nor exactly what it's supposed to accomplish. There are two trucks there, near my house, cleaning up after dumping their load.
The fuzzy picture below, taken near the end of the day, shows a guy opening a hydrant to fill his bucket with water. I don't know what the water is used for.
In this next picture, you can see that some drivers raised the dump-part of the truck to the highest extension to leave on the target street as much of the asphalt they brought, as possible. And yes, the house in the back, left, really is pink.
The driver then walked to the back of the truck and used a little scraper to knock some of the asphalt clinging to the truck instead onto the roadway.
For some reason, the paver moved forward beyond the edge of new material at one point, and this guy with a rake smoothed things out in advance of the roller. I don't know why.
The project ran until at least 5:10pm, well after the fall of darkness, but the compactors rolled on, guided by headlites.
In fact, Big Daddy roller made a brief daylite appearance the following day.
As you can see, repaving a street is a very complicated operation managed brilliantly by people who, for the most part, probably do not have a college education. But they did an absolutely brilliant job on Smith Street. Well done, gentlemen. Bravo.