The off-season in the Alps means the road workers are busy resurfacing roads before winter hits. For the past four off-seasons here (that’s two years), the road workers have been changing the layout of the roads and car parks and updating the drains underneath at the same time. It’s involved a lot of work, so I’m not surprised it’s taken this long.
However, there’s a road that joins Thônes, ten minutes from here, to Annecy-le-Vieux which has not been so lucky. When I first moved to La Clusaz exactly three years ago, this road was only open on one side, forcing traffic through single file. Then winter came and the roadwork signs and lower speed limits stayed in force but the workers were never there. Finally, by June 2007, the road was fixed! It was lovely to drive on, and cyclists were happy that they had a bike lane.
Then disaster struck in August 2007 — just two months after the road was finished. A dam on the hill above burst and caused a flash flood on the road. People had to dump their sodden cars and save themselves from the flow of water, but no lives were lost. The road was, of course, closed. Within a few days, it was re-opened, but roadwork signs reappeared and the cyclists’ lane was once again closed. The road workers never appeared, but the lower speed limit — to protect the absent workers — is still in place to this day. This week, the workers turned up! In three years, the road has been fully functioning for two months, yet trucks use it every day.
Meanwhile, the private driveway to my apartment was also fixed up this week. There had been huge pot-holes at the bottom of the driveway, plus a concrete drain with pointy corners that jutted out about 20cm near my garage. The entire driveway has a kind of wave system in its unevenness which acts as a rollercoaster ride. So, the lovely owners of the apartments resurfaced the driveway, but I think they must have run out of money. The potholes at the bottom are gone, but the drain is still jutting out, with the roadwork only covering the first half of the driveway. In addition, they’ve left the stones loose, so the sun warms the tar underneath each day, leaving splattered tar marks on the side of cars driving on the driveway, along with chip marks from the stones. The loose stones have started to diminish and the waves are coming back. Before, I just avoided the potholes. Now I can’t avoid the stones or the tar, while most other obstacles remain. Still, it could be worse. I could have had roadwork signs and speed limit restrictions for the past three years.