Fixing gravel roads „is like pissing in one's boots“

The road is not kind to the cars that drive ...

The road is not kind to the cars that drive it. Ljós­mynd/​Eyþór Hann­es­son

People aren’t asking for a better gravel road, people are asking for asphalt says Magnús Jóhannsson, project leader for Fellabær that maintains the road to Borgarfjörður eystri in Iceland’s Eastern Region.

He says traffic to the idyllic village has grown so much that the gravel road can’t handle it and that adding to it every year is like pissing in one’s boots.

[Editor’s note: For those not familiar with this Icelandic saying, the full version goes something like this: The warmth from peeing in one’s boots is short-lived.]

The villagers say that the road easily gets destroyed by the weather and traffic, especially in the summer and when it gets wet. The road brings shame upon the Eastern Region according to Hafþór Snjólfur Helgason, chair of the village’s tourism group. He told that tourists had even turned around at the start of the road rather than risk the ride.

Ljós­mynd/​Eyþór Hann­es­son

Fellabær has fixed the whole road four or five times this summer. This past week, parts of it have had to be filled in on three occasion, Magnús says.

“If we get the road into good shape now and it stays relatively dry it can last for some days and weeks. But if there is a lot of rain and traffic, it won’t last at all. 

He says there is no way of maintaining the road properly in it’s current condition, no matter how good the gravel wearing surface is. He says people are tired of waiting for the asphalt and that they need to be listened to.

“It’s expensive for people to live by this road,” he says, adding that the road is a favorite among those that run tire garages and auto-repair shops.


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