City set to finish road sealing project

The city’s project to slurry seal 29 road segments wraps up today, Oct. 18.

On Thursday, Dan Takasugi, Public Works director and City Engineer, said the contractor was on track to finish slurry sealing by this Friday. But, he added, it may be two more weeks before the crews place new traffic striping – centerlines and stop bars – so the slurry coat material has time to cure.

Of particular note, the pedestrian crossing lane connecting two ends of the bike path on Fifth Street West, are now covered up and motorists should be watchful of people crossing the street at that point.

The slurry seal project, which started on Tuesday with preparation work the week before, used Measure J sales tax revenue to improve 3.4 miles of roads along 29 stretches of road, including segments on Fifth Street West, West Spain Street, Chase Street and Perkins Street.

The slurry seal treatment is a necessary maintenance, according to Takasugi, as it will extend the life of roads by five to eight years, preventing costly reconstruction projects. Every other year, Takasugi says, the city does a Pavement Management System update, in which it looks at the condition of each street and recommends the appropriate type of maintenance treatment. The city is currently preparing its update for 2014.

The city contracted with Central Valley Engineering and Asphalt for the roads project.

Construction crews notified residents prior to street work with door-hanger notices and signs on the street.

Jeanne Allen, who lives on Patten Street, said she and her husband were promptly notified about impending work, giving them plenty of time to make plans to park their cars around the corner during the road repair. While she says her street did not seem to be in bad condition before, she understands and commends the city for taking action for appropriate upkeep and preserving this part of its infrastructure. “I respect the idea that (the city) is not letting things fall apart. I equate it to keeping a fresh coat of paint on a house before problems evolve.”

Takasugi agreed with the analogy, explaining, “Slurry seal is like painting a house. It doesn’t cost too much and can be applied over a house in fairly good condition.If the house had rotting siding then painting wouldn’t be appropriate and the siding would need to be replaced. That would be more like the grind and asphalt overlay process, which is far more costly.”

Allen, whose street was sealed on Thursday, said now the road in her neighborhood is “perfectly smooth.” She said her husband did notice the thin surface treatment – a mixture of asphalt, graded aggregates, mineral filler and other additives that adhere to existing street surfaces – did seem to have more texture than the previous road. While this may not make a difference for a car, she said, it could create more drag on bicycle tires.

Takasugi said slurry seal coat treatments are applied to streets in “fair” to “good” condition.“If we were to apply a slurry seal to a street that’s in poor condition, it wouldn’t help much, and the poorly rated street would continue cracking and breaking up within a year,” he explained.

After this project comes to an end, Takasugi said the city would not be performing any more slurry sealing in 2013. The city plans to address roads in “poor” condition beginning in late spring of 2014 with grinding and overlaying work on parts of Church Street and Curtin Lane.