My husband and I have subscribed to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) service since 2007. For 18-20 weeks during the growing season (typically late June to early October), we receive fresh vegetables grown at a local farm. We like knowing the farmers, and have learned to prepare some vegetables we never would have tried otherwise.
Yes, I am the one driving my car 25-40 mph on Route 14 between Bunker Hill Road and Hughes Road from Harvard to Woodstock and back again most days of the week. If you have not yet experienced this stretch of road this winter, well, I suggest you plan to avoid it for the foreseeable future.
The road became particularly rough shortly after the first major cold spell broke in early January. Road heave, also called frost heave, occurs when moisture underneath pavement freezes and expands, forcing the asphalt up. It gets worse as the ice melts and then refreezes – again and again. Eventually the pavement starts to break apart. The more traffic, the faster the road breaks up.
The section between Deep Cut and Dunham Roads is particularly awful. Like driving over a series of unmarked speed bumps for half a mile. If you ever accidentally hit an actual speed bump at full speed, you probably thought: “Ouch, I hope I never do that again!” (At least that’s what I thought, only “ouch” was replaced with a different 4-letter word.) Now, imagine doing that every 20-30 feet for half a mile at 55 miles per hour.
This morning, two cars decided to pass me in this stretch of Route 14. I just shook my head as I watched them bounce down the road ahead of me. Apparently they didn’t care about the neck and back injuries they are likely to sustain (maybe hoping for a Worker’s Comp claim), nor did they mind the extra wear and tear on their cars’ suspensions (must have been leased vehicles).
The driver of a semi-truck that was right behind me – much too close for comfort or safety – was so annoyed by my turtle-esque pace that he passed me in a no-passing zone shortly after Dunham Road. (Note, I could still see him about one-quarter mile ahead of me when I reached Dean Street a few miles later.)
I’m telling this story because it occurred to me that maybe some people drive full speed down bumpy roads because they don’t understand the effects such behavior has on their bodies or cars? Specifically, the jarring movement of driving quickly across a bumpy road results in:
$1- Neck and back injuries. The result is higher medical costs, more time off work due to pain and injury and an increased likelihood of chronic neck and back problems as one ages.
$1- More accidents. Drivers are more likely to lose control of a vehicle when driving at high speed on a rough surface.
$1- Increased vehicle maintenance costs. In fact, driving on rough roads adds an average of $400 each year to the cost of maintaining a car as the suspension, tires, and many other parts wear down more quickly. The increased costs are higher in areas that are more heavily developed.
$1- Increased fuel costs. Plain and simple, a car uses more fuel when driving on bumpy roads – and driving fast on a rough road uses more fuel than driving slowly on the same road.
It also crossed my mind that some folks may not understand the extra costs society bears as the roads breakdown more quickly and require more maintenance. The costs of maintaining and repairing public roads are paid by tax-payers, whether the roads are maintained by the township, Village, county, state, or federal government.
Personally, I would rather see my taxes spent on something other than the constant repair of roads that are prematurely disintegrating because so many people refuse to slow down a little when driving on a bumpy road.
Saturday December 10th was the inaugural Oak Rescue at the future Gateway Park on the south side of Harvard near the intersection of Routes 14 & 23.
Thirty volunteers from throughout McHenry County donated over 90 hours on a cold morning to release about a dozen ancient oaks from the grips of invasive brush that had grown up around them in the last 20-30 years.
The 18 acre property is home to dozens of oaks that were growing on the property before the area was settled. These trees would have welcomed early settlers to town 165 or more years ago, and now will continue to welcome residents and visitors to Harvard forever.
Through a partnership between the City of Harvard and The Land Conservancy of McHenry County, Gateway Park will be preserved as a public nature park for hiking, relaxation and education.
The property includes several oak groves, with dozens of trees that were already large when the City was founded in 1856. Additionally, one of the only portions of Rush Creek that was never ditched runs through the center of the property, providing important habitat for a diversity of fish, including three that are listed as "species in greatest need of conservation" by the State of Illinois.
Future Oak Rescues are being planned. Contact The Land Conservancy for more information: 815-337-9502.
Sometimes a project seems pre-destined. The Harvard Gateway Project is one of those.
For ten years, I have driven past a property at the entrance to Harvard - a property with two small oak groves and a beautiful, windy stretch of Rush Creek. Following heavy rains, I have marveled at the way the creek quickly rises to the edge of its floodplain, and then slowly settles back into its meanders.