NOTICE OF CAUTION – The sound is coming, this is your warning how will it impact our budgets?

The sound is ominous, a sudden thud and then the dull thumping. It usually comes at night and always unexpected it is a plague soon to arrive across Connecticut. This will be your only warning it is up to you to be cautious and to avoid impending peril.

In the era of Connecticut patriot, Nathan Hale spring was also known as mud season. The primary means of travel was horseback or wagon. Annually as the spring thaw would arrive the ground would return to an unfrozen state the water of a frozen winter would turn the paths of travel to impassable ribbons of mud.

Thanks to modern technology we no longer travel by wagons pulled by horses and our roads are cleared of snow so mud is no longer a problem across the land of steady habits, known as Connecticut. Soon we will see the snow melt away, the flowers of spring will break through the land and the warmth of spring will be the harbinger of the summer to come.

In New England spring means the maple sap season is in full swing as warm days and cold nights initiate the sap flow and sugar houses fire up the traditional flames to boil down the sap. Ah, the wonderful aroma, the taste of real maple sugar, it is truly a New England treasure.

Like the sap and the crocus other things are generated by those warm days and cold nights. Our winter skating ponds will soften in the sunlight and freeze solid again at night. Lord Tennyson tells us, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

But I digress, for we are still to face that ominous thud and the dull thumping. Look around, the signs are there as you travel daily you can see it coming. You just have to observe closely the signs of impending peril. They are everywhere you travel lately, on our country roads, local highways and yes even clues abound on the interstate.

I am talking about the damage caused by those warm days that melt the snows of winter that seep into to cracks in the roadways and then at night freeze expanding and contracting. Ever growing is that crack until one day suddenly and without warning in the dark of night you discovery it is now a pot-hole!

You have just had the traditional New England mud season experience of modern times. The sudden impact has caused your teeth to tighten, your car rim to bend and your tire to flatten into a mass of soft rubber creating a dull thumping tone like no other.

A new tire was not in your budget, but you will have to adjust, there is no alternative. The same will hold true for government this year. Look at the street the next trip you take, the damage is already growing. We have had an especially harsh winter and now suddenly the forecast is for those warm days and cold nights.

We are heading into mud season and we are heading into the budget season. (I simply can not ignore the observation that there sometimes seems to be some mudslinging carried forward to our budget talks. It may be another New England tradition.) This year budget year we face a decision, to be preventative and take road maintenance seriously or defer some of the cost and pay a high price later.

In simpler terms it would be like virtually ignoring a leaky roof in our schools that you patch, put off and continue to sustain damage only to finally commit to a real “fix” after tossing good money after bad. That should be a lesson learned after all it is a school educational experience. So now we may face the same decision with our roads.

The real question is will the same people make the same type of decisions and expect different results or will things change?

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