ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Città americane ora la rimozione dalle strade di asfalto – tornare a ciottoli | Sampietrini tradizionali. The NYT (07/03/2017) & La Repubblica (27/02/2017). s.v, NYT (01/09/2005) | L’Unità (03/09/2005). FOTO: Annalisa Giuseppetti, Roma | FACEBOOK (06/03/2017).

Nota: grazie speciale a Dott.ssa Ilaria Giacobbi – Presidente Ass. Selciaroli Romani, Roma (2015-17), è stata così gentile da discutere il lavoro della sua famiglia a Roma, che sono specialisti nel lavoro di ciottoli | sampietrini, e il cui padre Roberto Giacobbi, “selciarolo”, è citato nel NYT (01/09/2005) | L’Unità (03/09/2005).

1). USA – Omaha’s Answer to Costly Potholes? Go Back to Gravel Roads, THE NEW YORK TIMES (07/03/2017).

ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Città americane ora la rimozione dalle strade di asfalto - tornare a ciottoli | Sampietrini tradizionali. The NYT (07/03/2017) & La Repubblica (27/02/2017).  s.v, NYT (01/09/2005) | L’Unità (03/09/2005).

OMAHA — After living more than 40 years along a road plagued by potholes, Jo Anne Amoura was excited to see city crews shred her block of Leavenworth Street into gravel.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is great. We’re going to get a new street,’” Ms. Amoura recalled. “And then we waited and waited and waited.”

Fresh pavement never arrived. Only after the asphalt had been ripped out almost three years ago did Ms. Amoura and her neighbors learn that their street had been “reclaimed,” Omaha City Hall’s euphemism for unpaving a road.

“It’s really kind of like living in the country in the city,” said Ms. Amoura, 74. Her neighbors sometimes hauled wheelbarrows full of scattered gravel back up the hill after big rainstorms. And her house, she says, is regularly smudged with dirt blowing in from the street.

I wouldn’t like it and neither do the residents that live on those streets,” said Mayor Jean Stothert, a Republican who is nearing the end of her first term. “We are about 50 years behind where we should be as far as resurfacing and repair. I can’t catch up on 50 years of neglect in three or four years.”

While President Trump has called for extensive investments in infrastructure, federally funded efforts are likely to go to decaying interstate highways and airports and dams. Some experts estimate that $1 trillion is needed to repair roads, bridges and rail lines over the next decade.

But infrastructure is also decaying at the most local levels — on cul-de-sacs and in neighborhood playlots unlikely ever to see federal funding. So cities like Omaha have resorted to unusual solutions.

In Youngstown, Ohio, officials closed off some uninhabited streets. In Gary, Ind., some of the city’s parks could close — a process city officials call “renaturing” — after years of neglect. And in one Michigan county, a deteriorating bridge was torn down, not replaced.

“This isn’t something that happened over one year or two years,” said Brooks Rainwater, a senior executive and the director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities. “This has been decades of not investing in our infrastructure.”

Omaha’s most problematic streets were mostly built by developers decades ago who skimped on costs by paving with asphalt instead of concrete, and by forgoing sidewalks and sewers. In other cases, Omaha annexed suburban-looking neighborhoods with roads not built to city standards.

For years, an uneasy truce persisted: Public works crews would fill potholes and perform other maintenance work on those roads, but insisted that residents pay if they wanted repaving. Those streets, labeled “unimproved” by the city, account for about 6 percent of Omaha’s roads.

Then repair costs escalated, and potholes started going unfilled. On particularly troubled blocks, the city converted the asphalt surface into a gravelly dirt, a peculiar sight in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods in the center of a city. Only a small fraction of them, less than 10 miles, have been reclaimed.

“I can’t even open my windows on that side of the house,” said Sharon Thonen, a retiree who lives on what is now a dirt road a block from a busy Starbucks. Children stopped riding their bikes on her street after the asphalt was ripped out, Ms. Thonen said. “During the summer, it’s just a dust bowl.”

Residents have responded with angry phone calls, neighborhood meetings and at least one lawsuit. But Todd Pfitzer, the city’s assistant director of public works, said Omaha’s policy on unimproved roads is a matter of equity. When the houses were built two generations ago with subpar streets, he said, the builder and homeowner saved money.

“Now you’re asking the rest of the citizens to come in and essentially subsidize you and rebuild your road,” Mr. Pfitzer said. Bringing all of Omaha’s unimproved streets up to city code would cost about $300 million, officials estimate.

Still, for many homeowners, tearing up roads defies logic and sets back the stature of a city that by many metrics is thriving. Omaha, which has more residents than Miami or Minneapolis, has a growing population, a stable economy and a busy downtown with new developments and a glimmering baseball stadium that hosts the College World Series.

“In grinding up streets and putting gravel roads in the middle of the core of your city, that damages the reputation, that damages the image and brand of a city,” said Heath Mello, a Democrat and former state lawmaker trying to unseat Ms. Stothert this spring. For her part, the mayor said that along with turning some roads to gravel, her administration also has increased annual funding for resurfacing by about $4 million.

In fact, 27 states have seen such pavement-to-gravel conversions, a 2016 study found. But in most cases, streets were in rural areas or small towns, not major cities. And while other urban areas, such as Oklahoma City and Lincoln, Neb., have some gravel roads, those streets had never been paved.

Public works experts say turning pavement to gravel can be a defensible strategy when it comes to old infrastructure and limited money.

“In areas where there’s lower traffic, less use, perhaps the terrain is flat, it can totally make sense,” said Rick Brader, a road engineer for King County, Wash., who manages streets outside Seattle.

But it is far from ideal. “I think that’s a step backwards in the infrastructure business,” said Mac Andrew, a retired public works director in the Kansas City area who was named one of the best in his field by the American Public Works Association.

Given the complaints, Omaha has put in place a moratorium on “reclaiming” additional streets while a committee studies the issue. And the city has compromised with some homeowners by splitting the costs of repaving streets.

Bruce Simon, the president of Omaha Steaks, a major employer here, sued the mayor and the city last year after finding out that the asphalt road in front of his $2.3 million house was scheduled to be pulverized into gravel. He dropped the lawsuit after Ms. Stothert helped negotiate the 50-50 payment deal.

“I got a road,” said Mr. Simon, who paid $5,200 to cover his share of the smooth new asphalt surface. “Did I like chucking out the five grand? No. Did I like spending the money with an attorney to deal with it? No.”

About a mile away, on Leavenworth Street, Ms. Amoura and her neighbors are waiting to hear from City Hall about whether they will get a deal similar to Mr. Simon’s. But on other reclaimed streets, residents have scoffed at the notion that they should have to choose between living on gravel and paying for new pavement.

“I’d like it to be the way it was,” said Ms. Thonen, who has lived in her home for more than 30 years and has no interest in splitting the cost of repaving with the city. “I pay my taxes.”


— THE NEW YORK TIMES (07/03/2017).

2). ROMA – Danni da buche a Roma, il Codacons: “Oltre 5 mila richieste di risarcimento al Comune” I numeri delle richieste di risarcimento avanzate al Comune per incidenti causati dal dissesto stradale sono stati forniti dalle assicurazioni di Roma, LA REPUBBLICA (27/02/2017).

ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Città americane ora la rimozione dalle strade di asfalto - tornare a ciottoli | Sampietrini tradizionali. The NYT (07/03/2017) & La Repubblica (27/02/2017).  s.v, NYT (01/09/2005) | L’Unità (03/09/2005).

Grazie ad una istanza d’accesso presentata dal Codacons, sono stati resi pubblici i dati ufficiali sugli incidenti provocati a Roma da buche stradali e disconnessioni dell’asfalto, e che hanno portato a richieste risarcitorie da parte degli automobilisti.

FOTO 1: ROMA – La voragine all’incrocio tra via Antonino Pio e viale Leonardo da Vinci è un pericolo per le sospensioni delle auto e l’incolumità dei pedoni. Così i residenti di San Paolo, stanchi di attendere l’intervento di Comune e municipio, scelgono il fai da te. Basta una bomboletta di vernice e sulle strisce pedonali (ormai quasi invisibili) spunta un circoletto argentato attorno al cratere e una scritta con tanto di freccia: “buca”. O forse sarebbe meglio dire “buche”, perché la maggior parte delle strade del quartiere sono un disastro. (a cura di di LORENZO D’ALBERGO). LA REPUBBLICA (27/02/2017).

FOTO 2: ROMA – Questa è la galleria che collega Porta Cavalleggeri a Lungotevere. È chiusa con transenne dallo scorso agosto, quando il forte terremoto di Amatrice e dintorni si sentì anche a Roma. Dichiarata pericolante ed in attesa di verifica è rimasta così. Sassi per terra, transenne e strisce di plastica arancioni che oramai svolazzanti al vento, sono molto pericolose. Questa mattina ho visto un motociclista a cui si erano arrotolate intorno alle ruote. Ma se è pericolante, perché ci fanno passare le auto? Misteri romani,” Annalisa Giuseppetti, Roma | FACEBOOK (06/03/2017).

Le assicurazioni di Roma, infatti, hanno fornito all’associazione tutti i numeri relativi alle pratiche di risarcimento intentate contro il Comune a seguito di sinistri causati dal dissesto stradale – mediante l’apposito sportello di conciliazione di Roma capitale o attraverso cause intentate in Tribunale – gestite nel 2016. Ebbene, secondo quanto riferito dal Codacons le pratiche pendenti al 31.12.2016 sono in totale 5.188. Di queste 3.239 riguardano sinistri “non in causa”, mentre 1.949 sono gli incidenti determinati da buche stradali che hanno portato ad una causa.

Sempre al 31 dicembre scorso, le pratiche definite sono 2.398 per i sinistri non in causa, e 331 per quelli in causa (totale 2.729 pratiche definite). “Da notare – sottolinea il Codacons – come tra i sinistri ancora in attesa di definizione ci siano ben 49 incidenti avvenuti nel 2004: a distanza di 13 anni gli automobilisti danneggiati dalle buche ancora non sono riusciti ad ottenere giustizia. Non a caso – calcola l’associazione – il tempo medio per ottenere un indennizzo è pari a 6 anni e mezzo nel caso in cui si ricorra alla giustizia ordinaria, periodo che scende a 1 anno e 10 mesi qualora di acceda alla conciliazione”.

“Si tratta di numeri che rendono l’idea del fenomeno buche a Roma – spiega il presidente Carlo Rienzi – oltre 5000 richieste di risarcimento ancora in piedi con una spesa immensa per l’amministrazione, tra costi legali e indennizzi da riconoscere. Se si provvedesse a rifare le strade a regola d’arte senza ricorrere ai rattoppi dell’asfalto che cedono alla prima pioggia, il comune potrebbe risparmiare centinaia di migliaia di euro ogni anno”.


— ROMA – Danni da buche a Roma, il Codacons: “Oltre 5 mila richieste di risarcimento al Comune,” LA REPUBBLICA (27/02/2017).


3). ROME – For Its Motorists, Only Parts of Rome Prove to Be Eternal, NEW YORK TIMES (01/09/2005); s.v., sotto (L’Unità 03.09.2005).

ROME, Aug. 28 – As a salami salesman, Giorgetti Mincello, 49, has driven his little scooter over the bumpy roads of Rome the equivalent of two-thirds around the equator in the last year. So he considers himself an expert on one atmospheric bit of Roman history that he believes would be better left in the past.

“They were fine when there were horses and carriages — there was a smooth surface and a smooth wheel,” he said. But now, “When it rains or a car loses oil, it’s finished.”

Mr. Mincello was thus pleased to see, 100 yards away, that a paving machine had just laid a coat of smooth, bland asphalt on a section of road along the Tiber that, probably for centuries, had been covered with costly, slippery but very pretty cobblestones. “They should have done this a long time ago,” he said.

“The massacre of the cobblestones,” as one Roman official put it, is well under way, part of a city program to lay asphalt on streets that are used mostly by cars, buses and scooters. On pedestrian walkways and piazzas treasured by tourists, like Piazza Venezia, the city has pledged to keep the cobblestones, called sampietrini. (They were supposedly first used around St. Peter’s Basilica; there is also lore about St. Peter’s having saved as many souls as there are cobblestones in Rome.)

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Already, with Roman streets nearly empty during the summer holiday, several main strips in the historic center, including sections of the Lungotevere, the ancient road next to the Tiber, have been paved over, a jarring sight, no doubt, for anyone convinced that Rome never changes.

But the surprising thing — in this city concerned as much with “la bella figura” as with its self-image as charmingly, or irritatingly, resistant to the modern world — is that there has not been much outrage. This is not the same as saying Romans prefer asphalt. But with 400,000 scooters in Rome, little public money and impatience for anything that slows traffic, there seems to be resignation that the change might be for the good — if done correctly.

“There are other things that make me sad more than this,” said Paolo De Manincor, 57, an architect who lives along the Tiber, standing aside fresh asphalt that, a few hours earlier, had been an uneven, rutted stretch of old cobblestone.

“This is a very difficult problem,” said Carlo Giavarini, an engineering professor and director of the Center for Cultural Heritage, a preservation institute at La Sapienza University. “I think it’s very difficult to balance the technical advantages and safety advantages with aesthetic advantages. Being an engineer, I prefer not to face this kind of problem.”

For some of the millions of tourists, the repaving seems something of a surrender. After all, the world seems to feel better believing Rome will stay exactly as it is.

“Why would you want to mess with antiquity just to make room for modernity?” asked Dominic Fabrizio, 35, a waiter visiting here from Niagara Falls, N.Y. “This is not going to be replaced. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

The truth is that the cobblestones, while old, are not ancient. Experts say they were first put in place in the 17th century, when they replaced the larger and older stones still visible on the Appian Way. And, city officials contend, the time had finally come for another change.

The city’s mayor, Walter Veltroni, has spoken often about the increasing cost of using cobblestones, which he said was roughly double that of asphalt. Giancarlo D’Alessandro, chief of Rome’s public works department, gave other reasons: safety for scooters, which often slide out of control on cobblestones, for example, and noise reduction. Also, cobblestones are more rigid and may generate vibrations that damage monuments and buildings.

But with tourism a major industry, Mr. D’Alessandro was eager to make the case that paving would not markedly change Rome because the program would be limited to major thoroughfares. Much of the work, he said, is paving streets that were already a patchwork of asphalt and cobblestone, and for years, the city has been paving over cobblestones outside the center and recycling the stones to streets downtown.

“The architectural charm will remain intact, while we give Rome more functionality, modernity,” he said.

There is, however, at least one man in Rome deeply offended by all this.

“It’s a political thing, and only political,” said Roberto Giacobbi.

Mr. Giacobbi, 46, has worked for 28 years as a selciarolo, one of the men who, by hand, break up blocks of volcanic rock into cobblestones of precisely the right size and fit them onto the street. His father did the same work for 50 years, and with two generations of experience to judge by, Mr. Giacobbi said the art of the cobblestone — and thus making Rome a work of art — is being moved to the margins.

Twenty years ago, he said, came the closure of the last of the quarries that produced basalt for true Roman cobblestones. The work was not economical, he said, with cheaper imports coming mostly from China (which provides a similar stone, though slightly darker and, he said, only “sufficient” for the job).

He disputes the notion that asphalt is cheaper. He said that on average a Roman road needs to be repaved every two years, but that at three piazzas near the Vatican that he fitted with cobblestones 20 years ago, “nothing has moved.”

“With sampietrini, you do it once, and if you take care of it, it will last forever,” he said.

The real issue, he said, is one of “culture,” that the world has lost patience for the time it takes to do things by hand. The city, he said, has made the “political” choice not to inconvenience drivers. Asphalt takes a few hours. Cobblestones go in slowly, at about 20 to 30 square yards a day.

But the reward, he said, is obvious: he walked around Piazza di Spagna showing off the work of selciaroli from a century ago: arches that run like rainbows stacked one on the other; the “peacock tail” composed of arches like feathers; the “fish spine,” a herringbone made of stone.

“The beauty is a stupendous thing,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it for another material in the world.”


— ROME – For Its Motorists, Only Parts of Rome Prove to Be Eternal, NEW YORK TIMES (01/09/2005).

4). ROMA – NEW YORK TIMES SUI SAMPIETRINI di Dora Marchi (L’Unità 03.09.2005).

Polemica su chi vuole toglierli e chi no
SAMPIETRINI O ASFALTO? Antichità o modernità?
La vicenda dei sampietrini, che, su alcune strade della capitale, sono già stati sostituiti da un più sicuro ed economico asfalto, finisce sul New York Times. Ian Fisher, nell’edizione di ieri, mette a confronto, da un lato, chi sostiene che i sampietrini siano il simbolo di un’antichità peculiare della città di Roma; e dall’altro chi, invece, ritiene che questi siano superati.
«Avrebbero dovuto asfaltare la zona del centro molto tempo fa – dice al NY Times Mincello Giorgetti, 49 anni, venditore di salumi – I sampietrini erano perfetti quando c’erano i cavalli e le carrozze. Ma quando piove o una macchina perde olio, è la fine». Per alcuni, si tratta di un «massacro dei sampietrini», anche se il Comune, come ricorda il giornale, ha assicurato che «nelle zone pedonali e nelle piazze maggiormente apprezzate dai turisti, come piazza Venezia, saranno mantenuti». La sostituzione, comunque, è stata già avviata in varie zone, complice l’assenza dei romani nel mese di agosto e la maggiore facilità nell’effettuare dei lavori stradali: in particolare su alcune zone del Lungotevere.
«La cosa che più sorprende – scrive il Ny Times – è che in questa città non ci siano state molte proteste. Ciò non vuol dire che i romani preferiscano l’asfalto. Ma con 400mila motorini, pochi soldi pubblici e una sorta di impazienza verso ciò che rallenta il traffico, sembra esserci stata rassegnazione verso un cambiamento che è visto come in meglio».
«Per alcuni milioni di turisti, la ripavimentazione – scrive il quotidiano – sembra una sorta di resa. Dopo tutto, il mondo sta meglio se sa che Roma non cambierà il suo aspetto. Walter Veltroni – continua il giornale – ha più volte ricordato i costi sempre maggiori dei sampietrini, il doppio rispetto a quelli dell’asfalto».
Tra le voci contrarie c’è quella di Roberto Giacobbi, 46 anni, «selciarolo». «È una questione solo politica – dice – e non è vero che l’asfalto è più economico. Mentre in media ogni strada della capitale deve essere ripavimentata ogni due anni, tre piazze, che si trovano nei pressi del Vaticano, con dei sampietrini, non hanno subito alcun intervento in 20 anni. Il problema – sottolinea Giacobbi – è di natura culturale. Il mondo ha perso la pazienza di aspettare che le cose vengano fatte amano».


— NEW YORK TIMES SUI SAMPIETRINI di Dora Marchi (L’Unità 03.09.2005), in: Associazione Culturale Sampietrino, Roma (2017).