2011年1月21日金曜日

the road less travelled

We get quite a few landslides around here. The big kind that make the news are thankfully few and far between but the less dramatic kind happen quite regularly. The combination of rocky soil, mountains, roads cut into the side of said mountains, a rainy season and then snow melt means there are slips somewhere in the village at least a couple of times a year. They have made efforts to prevent damage- there are big wire nets to hold the mountain in and some roadsides are completely concreted for 10s of metres up the mountain. Where snow melt induced rock/ mud/ land slides are an issue they build little balcony like overhangs over the road so everything can slide down and into the ravine without blocking the road.

Even with all these measures in place roads get damaged. In a number of places you can see the remnants of a road that was just left after it fell into the ravine and they gave up and built an alternate road.

There's a really pretty road that runs from the village here up to the tourist spot Kamikochi. It's not the main road up there but it winds between the river and the mountain, has a troupe of monkeys you have to negotiate right of passage with, less traffic than the main road, no traffic lights and is convenient to boot. The last three years in a row though it has been blocked at some point along it due to landslides. Luckily noone was hurt but it was closed for months at a time being repaired.

At the start of December it was blocked again. At the far end so noone has lost access to their house (that has happened in the past) but still, blocked again. Since amalgamation we are ruled by Matsumoto City. And it seems the number crunchers at Matsumoto City Council are less persuaded by the beauty of the road and more concerned with the endless throwing of money at a non-essential road.

They called a meeting of the residents, the local neighbourhood association reps and the council engineers and geologists. If we want the road re-opened we have to put up part of the money for it to be repaired and be prepared to keep doing that as the experts all agree that the mountain is going to keep sliding.

And in a surprisingly short amount of time the unanimous decision was that we don't need a shortcut to Kamikochi anyway. It's not like a lot of locals head to Kamikochi to hang out with the throngs of tourists anyway. Mostly we use the road as a back route to the next town. And there are plenty of alternate routes to get there. It's kind of a win-win situation I guess. The locals now have a no through road to get home- even less traffic, and the monkeys get the entire end of the road to colonise at will.


0 件のコメント: