High-speed infrastructure action!

In a chilling reminder of the Great Tohoku Earthquake, a major tremor struck the same area at 11:36 p.m. on 16 March, only a few days after the anniversary of the disaster. It was an especially large one too, causing damage, injury, and loss of life.

In the news reports that followed, one of the more dramatic images was that of huge fissures running down the middle of the Tohoku Expressway. The cracks ran through a section of road between the Kunimi and Shiroishi exits and resulted in the immediate closure of the entire road.

You might have noticed that I used past tense there. That’s because the problem has already been solved.

▼ “Due to the earthquake, roads were closed after 11:36 p.m. last night and the Tohoku Expressway was closed before that. We are sorry for the inconvenience. The closure has been lifted after emergency restoration. Please take care when driving.”

The above tweet was posted by the privatized Central Nippon Expressway Company, or NEXCO Central for short and shows a picture of the cracks both before and after repair work. What’s particularly impressive about the tweet is when it was posted: 3:44 p.m. on 17 March.

Crunching the numbers, that means these large cracks were all patched up and fit for driving on in a matter of 16 hours. Actually, the other tweet by NEXCO embedded in the one above was posted at 7:45 a.m. on 17 March and showed the crack in its original state, which means the actual repair time fit quite neatly into a single eight-hour workday.

▼ The road was almost fixed and reopened by the time others could report on it

Their initial tweet also included the polite apology: “It is expected to take time for the repairs. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

It’s unclear whether: they surprised themselves with the time it took; they were really sticking to company protocol of polite speech; they were doing some super passive-aggressive boasting; or all of the above. Regardless, you can’t argue with results, and most comments agreed that these were some amazing results.

“Fantastic! That was really fast!”
“Thank you very much!”
“It looks great! I remember how fast they were after the Great Tohoku Earthquake.”
“Honestly, I thought it would take more time. Thank you for your hard work!”
“It’s not an inconvenience at all. If this was a worse disaster your hard work and skill would help relief arrive faster. Thank you.”
“All it is is pouring concrete into the crack. I can do that. It’s not so amazing.”

I’m sure the person who left that last comment could also perform the government mandated safety inspections required on a damaged high-speed roadway before and after the repair work, and also order the materials, equipment, and labor in the middle of the night so that they’re all ready together at the crack of dawn too. It’s no big deal really.

Still, just in case, I’m going to keep putting my faith in the fast and responsible road crews out there instead. Luckily, this quake wasn’t as bad as the one eleven years ago, but it’s only a matter of time before something worse comes along. When it does, it’s both a comfort and an inspiration to know that people are out there working hard to make things better again.

Source: Twitter/@e_nexco_tohoku, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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