POULSBO — The small print on the big sign advertising the Pavement Maintenance Demonstration Project on Urdahl Road NW reads, “Please send us your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
You’ll find similar signs along stretches of 12th Avenue NE, Kevos Pond Drive NE, and 9th Avenue NE (see map).
If you’re a Poulsbo resident, you really need to drive on one of those roads and send the city your feedback, because that feedback is directly connected to your pocketbook. Residents’ comments are going to help the Poulsbo City Council decide how much money it needs to spend on street repair.
The feds, state and county don’t help pay for residential streets like they do for highways and freeways. The city has to pay for it — which means local taxpayers have to pay for it.
Prevention is cheaper than replacement
Poulsbo Public Works Superintendent Mike Lund has said, “It’s cheaper to be proactive than reactive.” Which is why the city started the Street Maintenance Program.
One of the first steps was to hire Sealaska Environmental Services to assess the condition of all city streets in 2016, according to the minutes of the Feb 1, 2017 Poulsbo City Council meeting.
Depending on maintenance, the street out in front of your home or business might last 10 years before it has to be completely torn out and replaced. Or it might last, say, 50 years, according to experts. A street’s longevity is determined by such factors as the current condition of the street, the kind and number of vehicles that drive on it every day, and what the public is prepared to tolerate (the pothole factor) and spend for prevention (the pocketbook factor).
For example, installing a nice, shiny new asphalt overlay costs about $450,000 per mile, city Engineering Director Andrzej Kasiniak said at that Feb. 1 meeting. He compared that to the $60,000 per mile it cost to do chip seal. Kasiniak noted that there are different kinds of chip seal, such as single chip seal, double chip seal, and fog seal.
Basically, chip seal involves putting down a layer of liquid asphalt and fine gravel. Double chip seal is just what it sounds like: two layers of chips and liquid asphalt. This is done on “more severely deteriorated streets.” A fog seal involves spraying on another layer of liquid asphalt after the original chip seal has cured.
“A chip seal not only seals and rejuvenates the surface, but also gives better skid resistance than an [asphalt] overlay,” according to www.chipseals.com. “If the roads are sealed on a regular basis (seven-year rotation), very little additional maintenance will ever be required. An ongoing preventive maintenance program using this method of paving is very cost effective when compared to an overlay program.”
Kitsap County uses chip seal on some of its roads. So do Bainbridge Island and the State of Washington. According to the www.chipseals.com, a 16-year study of a double chip seal done at Arrowpoint Drive NE at the intersection of Frey Road NE on Bainbridge Island found “the double chip seal has worked very well, staying flexible, and bridging over cracks and alligatored areas.”
Poulsbo City Council members wondered at that Feb. 1 meeting: Would Poulsbo residents be satisfied with chip seal?
To find out, they decided to do a chip seal demonstration project and gather feedback from the public. The contract for doing the demonstration project went to Doolittle Construction, LLC.
July 28-29: thermoplastic removal. Doolittle employees supervised traffic while Apply-A-Line workers ground off the white sidewalk lines at the four sites. Why just the white lines and not the yellow lines? According to Doolittle employees, the yellow lines are just paint. The white lines are actually made of thermoplastic that is melted, mixed with tiny reflective glass balls, and then applied to the pavement where it hardens. It seems the chip seal will stick to paint but not to thermoplastic. To mark where the white lines need to go after the chip seal is applied, Doolittle workers stuck vertical, white plastic markers on the road where the new stripe should go.
Aug. 7-9: chip seal. Depending on the condition of the road, workers applied either single chip seal (Urdahl Road NW, Kevos Pond Drive NE) or double chip seal (9th Avenue NE, 12th Avenue NE).
Aug. 8-10: clean up sweep. Within a day, a street sweeper will clean up any loose aggregate.
Aug 10-11: fog seal. The street will be swept again and an additional layer of liquid asphalt will be added.
Aug. 14-15: traffic lines. The yellow painted lines and white thermoplastic crossing lines will be added.
“It will be a fast-paced little project,” Lund said.
But all this effort will be for naught if residents don’t give feedback. Like the signs say, “The key component of this demonstration project is public input.”