Saturday, April 09, 2011

Don't try this with your car!

Yesterday, the City of Portland Water Bureau began digging a trench across our exceedingly steep street. We have water run-off problems. Remember, this is Portland, Oregon. The rainwater is blocked somewhere in the subterranean storm sewer beneath the pavement and seeps up through the street.

The mid-street springs make it particularly dicey when the temperature drops below freezing. Did I say this is an especially steep street? It's worth repeating.

Then consider the matter of unseen sink holes. One never knows....

So, suddenly without notification to us and our two neighbors on this short block, the street was barricaded for jackhammering (that shook the house) and excavation work. I phoned to ask what was going on. (Ever try to talk to a guy who is jackhammering?) That meant leaving voice mail messages. By the end of the day I still had no response.

But never mind, at least the problem is being addressed — we hope. Perhaps the work, which continues next week, will stop the water running on top of the street from coming into our backyard and getting into our garage. It seems to have overwhelmed our French drain.

In the evening, after the excavation tumult, I went down to inspect the work and discovered an elephantine backhoe straddling the trench. The operator, a chatty, forthcoming guy, was still futzing around so I asked how he managed to get the hoe to bridge the trench.

"I'm asked that a lot," he said and gave his rote and ready answer. He plants the the hoe's bucket firmly on the ground out in front of the treads, then pushes the arm down to fulcrum and lift the tractor up and over the trench as he inches the machine forward under the arm.

Remember, you heard it here first!

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