Saturday, December 20, 2008

My New Driveway

Way back when I bought my townhouse, I vaguely noticed that the driveway slab closest to my garage door was slightly off kilter and formed a slight valley where it met the lower section of the driveway and the steps coming down from the front door. Over the years, this minor flaw has been a major hassle. When it rains the bottom step becomes a puddle that has to be jumped over to get to my car. In the winter it freezes solid and becomes the world's smallest ice rink. But now I think my troubles are over.

Loyal readers will recall me kvetching about a power outage back in October that resulted in a crew from Big Giant Utility (BGU) jackhammering a 2 foot by 2 foot hole in my driveway at two in the morning. They quick patched it with asphalt and said another crew would come by in about two weeks and saw cut and repour a band of the driveway. That sounded like it would look like crap, but who was I to argue.

Three weeks came and went and the uncompacted asphalt patch became a black sinkhole threatening to enrich a car suspension repair franchise. A call to BGU revealed that they had no record of the repair ever having been made probably due to lost paperwork from whichever subcontractor did the actual late night electrical repair. A team was dispatched to top off the original hole with asphalt and repairs were again promised in a week or two.

Three more weeks and another two or three phone calls to find the guy that fielded our first effort revealed that the paperwork still hadn't been properly filed which led to more promises. In the meantime some cracks had started to spiderweb out from the original hole. Then on Monday, which would be two months and five days after the original repair, I came home to the sight of half my driveway ringed with warning tape. The entire lower section of my driveway had been jacked out and replaced. And the pitch of the new slab matches that of the other section.

The drainage characteristics of the new driveway have been well-tested since then because it has rained nearly every day since with no ponding or pooling. I thank BGU for performing a long needed improvement at no cost to me.

However, they didn't bother to leave me any instruction on curing time. After two days of parking on the street, I tore down the warning tape and let my wife back in the garage while I made sure that my car is on the upper slab each night. Still in the ground are six three-foot tall metal spikes holding in the slab framing. I have no use for them and I have no idea if BGU is going to come back for them and take out the framing.

In the meantime I am just dreading the day one of us cuts the turn out of the driveway too sharp and scrapes the side of the vehicle with this semi-permanent lawn ornament. I think I'll call BGU and ask what I should do. In about three weeks.


Unknown said...

My parents were just offered a new free driveway from some people that my dad does free engineering work for on occasion. They started. Then it got too cold to continue (being Minnesota in November and all). So my parents will have to finish it in the spring on their own unless by some miracle those guys are visiting in the spring (unlikely). But at least it's half done!

Cham said...

You have my permission to remove the spikes.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid the town came into my neighborhood and re-did everything there was to do with the streets. They were re-paved and curbs were put in where there had been none previously. Practically everyone in the neighborhood got a major portion of their front yards re-done somehow. In our case it was completely re-graded and the street-to-steps sidewalk replaced (the neighborhood still has no easement sidewalks).

In the long run, of course, it wasn't specifically "free", any more than your driveway was free. (Be sure to send a thank-you note to my utility bill sometime soon.) But the town's Department of Public Works got a huge PR boost out of it.

Alex said...

I have a similar problem with my driveway, probably the result of the ground not being properly compressed before the builders poured the concrete. Wish I could get in on that free fixin' action.