17 July 2006

Carbonell Hell

It's called Carbonell Street, named after somebody named Carbonell. (Research is My life!) The section I will refer to here is 0.7 miles long, winding slightly up from Road 100 and ending at the curve just before entering "downtown" Cabo Rojo.

Carbonell Street is about 65 feet wide at its widest point, between the baseball park and the high school, there where it makes a slight bend left and a neighborhood road serving 6 houses merges into the street along a nearly-blind "Y" junction. The rest of its length is basically three lanes wide, framed by sidewalks. It rises from Road 100 some 25 feet in a slight grade, leveling off before the ballpark then dipping about 6 feet as it enters the town proper.

That section of Carbonell Street, main entrance to the town of Cabo Rojo, lifeline to homes and businesses, has been under construction since February, 2003.

At it isn't close to being finished.

Now this is not some hyper-engineering, concrete-and-steel marvel like building airports in the middle of bays or thousand-feet towers on shifting sands. This is a street, two lanes plus, slightly winding, with a dip or two along the way. And it's still "in process," rutted, with concrete barriers separating the minimally-paved from the dirt.

When My son, Kaleb, entered pre-school at the age of 3, Carbonell Street was already a shambles. The entrance to Happy Friends sits just above the Carbonell-Road 100 junction. Every school day for the next two years was plagued by dirt, dust, mud, barriers, obstacles, heavy equipment, traffice jams and spewing sewage from the time the so-called construction company dug too deep and massively ruptured the aqueduct system. In two places.


I visited City Hall to ask what the current cost of shredding Carbonell Street had amounted to. The first response The Jenius got was: "You're not authorized for that information."

My response was "Your pitiful $45,000 salary doesn't give you the authority to deny Me My right to public information."

The parasite answered "I don't make that much!"

Easy putaway: "Then you're worse than pitiful." Ten minutes later, I got "the numbers." Tabulated until November 2004.

Look at that date again. November. 2004. At that time the estimated total amount of money wasted--yes, wasted--on Carbonell Street was $631,457.

Do tell.

Twenty months later, there's no "official" tally of how much has been spent. Even the November 2004 amount is suspect because it only includes work billed, not actual money spent. Let's be nice and almost double it to $1.3 million. Sound fair to you?

Zero point seven miles is 3,696 feet. That stretch of Carbonell Street has been under construction since 2003, a grand total of about 1,250 days. If the feckless morons working on the road were capable enough of building only 3 feet of road a day, they could have finished by now.

As it is, Carbonell Street sits quietly under the brilliant sun and slashing rain of summer, not a hard hat or safety vest or studded tire anywhere in sight. Same vista for the past four months.

Until the day school opens and traffic quadruples. Then the maggots crawl back to their gaping wound, plug the Cabo Rojo artery like gooey lumps of fat and create a stench of incompetence for the next year or so in what seems to be the most enormous engineering project since the Great Pyramid.

I asked a handyman how much roadway he and his two assistants put down for a neighbor of Mine. He told Me they built a driveway that was 396 feet long by 12 feet wide in 9 days. By hand. Using shovels, wheelbarrows and a handroller to smooth out the surface and working only 5 hours a day because We get frequent afternoon showers around 2 P.M.

And yet, the City of Cabo Rojo can't find people to build a street using 37 employees (no, I am not exaggerating: the project lists 37 employees on the site), some 14 pieces of heavy equipment and over about $590,000 in raw materials.

By My calculations, Mr. Handyman and his two buddies, three men with hand equipment, could have finished Carbonell Street in 1,400 hours, or roughly 35 weeks.

But instead of a finished product, We deal with the eyesore obstacle course formerly known as Carbonell Street. Sadly, there are hundreds of Carbonell Streets in Puerto Rico and dozens of "public work projects"--boondoggles of the scummiest order--littering Our landscape. The problem lies in Our lack of ethics, Our embracing of incompetence because it is allied with corruption which means money which means let it ride.

Kaleb will begin first grade in three weeks. We drove up Carbonell Street on Our way to town and he remarked that the street was "always broken." I agreed. He asked Me when it would be finished and before I could answer he said: "Maybe by when I graduate from the sixth grade."

He made Me chuckle. Because he's right.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Anonymous said...

HAH! This post is hysterical. I love that it's a story, a criticism, and an anthropological work all that the same time. Beautiful and hysterical.

The fabric is woven very well, see how it's all triple knotted. That's quality.

Ana Oquendo said...

I seldom tell anyone this little four letter word to anyone. But you, sir, are without shadow of a doubt, a liar!

There is no way in seven hells that you got any kind of information, out of any public employee, much less a municipal one, in the span of ten minutes, as you describe... It takes at least that long to make any such person (and I use the term loosely here) begin to understand what it is you are asking for...

err... just kidding! feel free to put me in my place...