The Pubic Works Department

Public WorkOur city is in the grip of public works. it has lain in this foul grasp for decades – nearly 200 years since the first British colonisation and a steady stream of buildings, roads, bridges, and sewage works have been foisted on the unresisting citizens.

It is not the final product that I complain about – though I am glad I do not live near the Shenton Park Water Treatment Plant. That euphemistic title goes only so far on a warm night when the settling pond starts to bubble… But as I say, I do not decry the finished structures – it is just the endless time needed to actually get something done.

I mentioned the paving of a local road recently – the hot tar boys have moved on to bedevil the next suburb and we can drive to the shops but I’ll bet that when they decide to paint the lane markers it will be out with the barricades for another fortnight. And I note that they do not work on Sunday or after dark when the traffic would be less – perhaps this spoils the paint.

It’s even worse when a major reconstruction of a minor bridge is needed. For years along a suburban rail line we traversed the thing on wooden motor bridges. They were angular, awkward, low, and ugly, but they served for what was probably the best part of a century. When it came time to redo them splendid new concrete and steel ones were designed and the old ones pulled down. Well, it has not been the best part of another century to put the new ones up – one is already functioning – but it certainly seems like it. As much as it might be a boon to suburban living, a rail line is also a real barrier to any transport that isn’t a train. Currently Mount Lawley is under the lash and you really have to plan a motor journey carefully to avoid joining an inadvertent car park.

A note to those who mention the bicycle path in Mount Lawley and hold up a sanctimonious green flag. Try transporting a sofa home on a bicycle across the rail line and let me know what colour flag you would like to wave at the end.

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