Jeopardy question: What is 192?

Answer: The approximate number of dump truck loads of dirt that have been hauled down Blansit Road by Taney County Road and Bridge so far this week.

Today is Thursday. Over the weekend, I had noted a small front end loader parked in the grass just this side of the bridge. Shortly before 7:00 AM on Monday, I saw a large, new, yellow dump truck, marked “Taney County Road and Bridge” turn down Blansit Road. Its cover was pulled, so it was obviously full, though full of what I couldn’t tell. I assumed gravel.

There’s a bit of recent history concerning gravel and the creek road.

In 2015, the creek flooded – as in raging, chocolate brown, out of its banks with whole trees floating by – at least seven times. I’m pretty sure it was eight times, but it was so often that I lost count, so since I don’t want to be guilty of (too much) exaggeration, for purposes of this blog, I’ll go with seven.

The creek road (Blansit) runs right along the “west” side of the creek which flows (very roughly speaking; it is, after all, a curvy creek that really doesn’t care anything about directions) north to south for about a mile from the low water bridge to the 160 bridge. In some places, the creek road is up to eight feet above the normal water level and/or is separated from the creek by a ten to 80 foot strip of trees, rush, brush, dirt, rock, or gravel, but in other places, notably at the dip behind LaShell’s, the road bed is exactly at the normal water level and there ain’t no separating “strip” at all.

Each time the creek flooded last year, the overflowing deluge poured down Blansit Road, washing away whatever gravel may have been on it, and scouring it down to bedrock to the point that it couldn’t even be traversed with a 4WD. And within two weeks after each flood event, Taney County was hard at it, hauling in gravel to repair the road. Gravel that washed away a few weeks or months later. Seven times.

So Monday afternoon around 4:00 PM, I took a walk along the creek and talked with one of the Road and Bridge guys who was sitting in his dirt-filled truck waiting for an empty truck to come out. It’s a one-lane road, and there aren’t many places along it where two massive dump trucks could pass each other.

Me: So. . . are you guys hauling gravel down there again? Seems to me you could just take some of this (waving my arm toward the heaps of washed-down gravel piled up several feet deep against the trees by the “parking area” at the bridge) and move it back up again!

Road Guy (RG): No, this time it’s not gravel; it’s dirt. We’re filling in the road so it doesn’t wash out.

Me: Well, that’s an interesting idea. I just know that last year I saw you guys hauling gravel in here about seven times.

RG: (grinning) Yes, it was a LOT of gravel!

Me: And it keeps washing down every time we have a big rain.

RG: Building up the road should help with that.

And I continued on my walk.

On Tuesday afternoon, Josiah and I walked to the low water bridge and back, and get this. There was NO fill dirt at the dip behind LaShell’s. There was nothing done about the seriously deep and loose gravel just past my place. In fact, there was no fill dirt anywhere along the road until we got to the highest part, shortly before you get to the low water bridge! Now why on EARTH would they be building up the road in the one place that is the least likely to flood?!?!? This simply defies all logic.

Josiah and I examined the fresh-packed dirt there on the rise, and I told him that I’d been hearing dump trucks go by all day. I figured they’d brought in at least twenty loads of dirt.

Thursday afternoon, I went walking again, and it was almost a traffic jam on Blansit Road. I again talked with a Road Guy who was idling near the bridge, and I asked him how many loads of dirt they had hauled in. Now bear in mind that this was nearly quitting time on Thursday, and they had been going hard at it all day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. He said, “Well, I’ve hauled 12 loads today.” We can do the math. I know for a fact (because I had noted the various “unit numbers” on the different trucks) that at least four different trucks had been bringing in dirt.

4 trucks x 12 loads per day x 4 days = 192 loads of dirt.

This AFTER having seven times in the past year re-graveled and re-graded a one-mile, dead-end road that provides access to exactly one property, on which no one lives, but where there is a large hay field.

The friendly road guy also said, “I know some folks get upset” (I think he thought I was upset, but I wasn’t), “but it’s tax money, and we need jobs, to0.” Now, I understand that people need jobs, but I would think that in our fair county – as opposed to “in our county fair” – the government could find something productive for these guys to do, rather than what appears to me to be busy work. I didn’t say that to this guy because I know he’s just an employee. He doesn’t make the policies or do the engineering. He just hauls dirt where and when he’s told to.

[Note: The procedure was actually quite interesting.

Guys #1 & #2 arrive in the morning in a white pick-up.

Guy #1 gets out and drives the track loader (which was parked in the grass near the bridge) down Blansit to the scene of the dumping (nearly at the low water bridge), while Guy #2 follows along in the white pick-up.

Guy #3 drives a dump truck load of dirt about halfway down the road, turns around in a wide-ish place right the start of the deep, loose gravel, and backs up for the the remaining half mile! He dumps his dirt and Guy #2 begins to spread it.

Meanwhile, Guy #4 has arrived with his load of dirt. He drives down to the wide-ish place, turns around and waits.

Guy #5 arrives with his load of dirt, drives to a point just before the dip and idles on the side of the road.

Guy #6 has also arrived with his load of dirt, but he waits at the bend in the road up at the bridge.

Guy #3 drives out, and when he passes Guy #4, Guy #4 does the back-up-for-half-a-mile-and-dump-it routine, while Guy #5 pulls forward to the wide-ish place to turn around, and Guy #6 moves from the bridge to the spot before the dip.

And so it goes, all day for four days straight! Pretty impressive. = )

Stay tuned to hear if the Taney County Road and Bridge guys bring in any more dirt, if they smooth the ruts out of what they’ve already hauled, if they add chat, if they relocate “upstream” any of the many tons of washed-down gravel, if they put any of their dirt in any logical places, or if we have another frog-strangling rain.

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