More Roads Lead To The Square

Now we realize that you've had to map out some creative routes over the past few months to get to the Farmer's Market, KidsPlay, Tuesday Reading Room, the Toyota Farm to Table Caravan and all the other great activities in Market Square. But very, very soon, we'll all be able to dash more quickly to the Square along more detour-free routes. That's because PWSA is finishing their pipe replacements and city road crews have been busy scraping away old layers of asphalt from lower Forbes Avenue, between Market Square and Stanwix, and McMaster's Way, that quaint little alley between the Original Oyster House and dreamy new lofts at MarketSquare Place.

Of course, we're not roads scholars (ha ha), which is why we always thought those guys in the orange vests and hard hats poured out the thick, oozy, steamy hot blacktop out in one big glob and then spread it around like icing on a cake until the new surface was all nice and even. But after observing the careful step-by-step work from the sidelines, we understand now that laying a new road is a complicated process that's best left to the pros.

First of all, you've got to "grind" away the old surfaces that have built up over the decades before you can even think of putting down the new road. After the grinding, what you end up with is a clean, bare surface. Then the crew starts the new road with a thick layer of asphalt.  A dump truck filled with asphalt (rocks mixed with tar) gets dumped into thier little green machine.  The green machine churns it to make sure it is well mixed, then dumps it underneath the vehicle.  As the vehicle moves forward, the back has a smoothing mechanism to make it nice and even.  Once it gets laid out, they compress with a big giant wheel that makes us giggle and think of Roger Rabbit or Wile E. Coyote when they get flattened by steam rollers in cartoons. So after that first layer, comes another, this time with smaller rocks for a smoother surface. Even on a short street like McMasters, the crews spread out six truck loads of blacktop for the first layer alone. But it's not all mechanized.  At special detail areas, like sewer grates and in the corners at the end of the streets, the guys push the asphalt into place with shovels, rakes and other tools.

Okay, did we mention the asphalt is so hot that you could fry an egg for a Primanti's sandwich on it? Because we don't want the yolk to be on us, we probably should say that we don't recommend that method of egg cooking. But at 300 searing degrees, you get the idea. Actually, it was sort of "cool" to notice how the temperature skyrocketed really fast from the time we turned off Fifth Avenue early Monday morning into McMasters, where the first layer had just been finished. You can also tell from afar when the rolling machine makes a pass the newly laid asphalt is smokin.' Literally!

So, now that more and more roads are leading to the Square, we expect to see you there more and more as the Grand Opening gets closer all the time. 

Check out this sweet video to see the crew in action...

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