44: Switzerland: Sweet on street re-surfacing

New shellacked version of asphalt on the left; old matte version on the right.

If the Swiss know how to do anything, it is how to do a thing many times. They are obsessed with it. As an example, a perfectly sound stretch of pavement in front of our favorite bookstore on Nidaugasse has been resurfaced three times in the past year.

The first time made sense – there was underground work being done in the neighbourhood. The second time was a mystery, with the same asphalt topping being peeled off and then applied fresh. Last week, the workers were at it again, only now the new coating of asphalt has a distinct permanent shine to it along with some white flecks that make it look like polished cut granite. It is as though they are moving furniture, trying out one thing, eyeballing it, finding something just a little bit off, and then trying something else.

If you’re going to leave livestock penned up all over city streets, it is just possible that the asphalt will need resurfacing more often. This donkey petting pen is part of a festival that last year had a very angry Holstein cow who repeatedly charged at the fencing. Hotheaded Holsteins are nowhere to be seen in this year’s festival.

In my opinion, their aesthetic sensibilities are telling them to spend the big bucks and put down cobblestone, but their economic sensibilities say it is too expensive, so they are incrementally upgrading their asphalt. It’s one thing to do this when shuffling a sofa around a living room, but another thing when it involves heavy machinery.

Nonetheless, that is the Swiss way. It would never go over in North America. For one thing, Canada is too big to treat road surfacing as window dressing, the United States is too broke and in Mexico (yes, I do know Mexico is part of North America), road crews are too busy cleaning off the latest grisly drug-war kills to get around to repaving anything.

We are still here for another 44 days. My money is that it is 50/50 that they’ll redo the surface before we book out.

2 thoughts on “44: Switzerland: Sweet on street re-surfacing

    • This particular stretch of pavement is in Biel/Bienne, but the renovation/rebuilding fever applies across the country. It is difficult to take a photo without capturing cranes in the skyline.

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