If this event has not yet graced your neighborhood, hang on. It’s coming. I’m old enough to remember when six – no, make that seven, must have a foreman – Irishmen with picks and shovels could prepare an empty for the construction of a small house. My, how “progress”has altered that operation.
For well over four years, the small house, one originally built in 1927 for workers of the now defunct railway which terminated where the PDC now sits, the place was empty save for a series of homeless squatters. Last year the place was demolished – in the current fashion, of course, where very little was salvaged and a 50,000 pound front-loader scraped the lot clean from edge to edge.
And, then it sat, forlornly empty and apparently devoid of life save for a number of happy rodents and a growing collection of native weeds.
Ah, those were the days of peace and quiet – to be shattered one morning with the arrival of the first of a series of heavy machinery, all of it far too expansive for the tiny – 140 X 45 feet – space.
Bulldozers, front loaders, pile drivers, cranes, dump trucks, cement trucks – you name it, they were there. Not an Irishman (my race) in sight. What could they possibly be doing with all that gear? A neighbor who keeps up with citty doings informed me that it was now allowed to construct underground areas, such as an off-street parking space. Astounding!
Then, after another long period of inactivity, a crane arrived to deliver two small Bobcat like machines to the site. We would not see them again until the crane returned to lift them up out of an 18 foot hole, where we supposed a house would eventually be erected. Wait – there’s more.
Several days prior to the crane’s reappearance, we spotted water bubbling up from the pavement across the street from our house. Called 911 and were told we were number two to so inform them. A couple of hours later a crew from Beverly Hills water department showed up and surveyed the situation.
Well into the night they worked, removing pavement and soil until they reached the damaged water pipe. Yep. Cracked water line. Laid down in 1933 – that was the year of my birth and, apparently, I was in better condition than the pipes. Over the next few days the trench was expanded, our water was cut off and on a number of times. One neighbor soon discovered that the line to his house from the main line was compromised and would require. expensive repairs – to the tune of $20,000 at least we were told.
Next to arrive was the private plumbing company which delved into the existing trench and dug another parallel opening and when the left for the day covered both trenches with steel plates.
This is where the story becomes a novel.
Down the street the construction company was happily loading dump trucks for the final push on the lot. The day’s last truck rumbled along with lots of heavy load of rocks and soil and, as it passed over the second steel plate over the water main trench, the plate flipped up, striking the underside of the truck and cracking open its transmission gear case and bringing the vehicle to a halt with one wheel stuck in the trench.
At the same time the crane for the action down the street had arrived and wanted to haul out the Bobcats. By this time, a coterie of residents was on the scene observing and wondering what could happen next.
This morning (Saturday) the private plumbers and BH water showed up and went into the trench to do something. My last glimpse of them was seeing four men staring into the trench – no activity. But, they did extend the trench a bit more.
If the city ever reads this little drama I hope they will be taking some notes about our ancient infrastructure and the real complications of managing a little city with all its large problems. Stay tuned for the next installment of Life in the Construction Zone.