Your Views: Why do we accept mediocrity?

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Your Views: Why do we accept mediocrity?
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To the editor:

My wife and I are long-time residents of Alexandria and have lived in Old Town for the last 24 years. We love the city for its charm, history and character. We appreciate the standards that the city maintains to ensure that the historic fabric of the city is retained. Therefore, it saddens me to see that mediocrity, or a lesser standard for the quality of road and sidewalk reparations by the gas company appears to be acceptable.

We are lucky enough to be able to spend several months of the year in a small village in a commune where quality of life is paramount, and where the commune ensures that the inhabitants get the full benefit of the taxes and the services that are promised. The concern extends, to among many other services, road construction and repair.

In the 15 years of our residence in the commune, the roadways have been well constructed and maintained. Yes, it goes below freezing from time to time and with few exceptions, even the tiny rural roads are smooth and not pock-marked. Where there is a repair, one can see the outline of the work but barely feel the bump as one drives over it.

That brings me to the problem I have with the work that is being done by the gas company as they perform maintenance on the gas lines throughout the city. I focus on Old Town because I can’t help but notice the work being done and what is left behind when they are finished. I accept that the work needs to be done, and I accept the inconvenience that it entails for the drivers and pedestrians. What I cannot accept is the condition of the road or sidewalk that remains when they have finished the job.

The work done in the streets or in small areas on the sidewalk is a disgrace. Sometimes the work goes up public driveways and into alleys. In those cases, their past presence can’t be missed because their work leaves uneven patches or ruts in the streets and asphalt patches where there once were neatly aligned bricks or smooth concrete. Instead of replacing the bricks that are removed to perform the work, the bricks are laid aside or on top of the asphalt patch.

This work is less than mediocre. The city should strive for a much higher quality of repair. City leaders should demand that streets, sidewalks and driveways be restored to what preexisted, or to a level of quality that makes clear to the drivers on the streets and to the many pedestrians that safety and appearance of the city is the priority.

Consider the tens of thousands of gas fixtures that need to be maintained. Imagine the ugly patchwork of uneven, rutted streets and sidewalks that would be created if the gas company is allowed to continue with their slap-dash fill-ins to their excavations. The City of Alexandria must raise the bar in their contracts for the restoration of the places which are disturbed by the work the gas company performs. It is the least that the residents of Alexandria deserve.

-Erick Chiang, Alexandria

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