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If you are a Newtown resident who has been trundling over or torquing around potholes and stretches of “de-laminated” local road surfaces over the past year, help is on the way.
On Monday, July 16, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal invites concerned and interested residents to hear a presentation about the 2018/2019 road work plan.
Mr Rosenthal and Public Works Director Fred Hurley will be presenting that plan during the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen (BOS) that day at 7:30 pm in the Council Chamber of the Newtown Municipal Center.
Ahead of the meeting, Mr Rosenthal told The Newtown Bee that the current fiscal year, which began on July 1, includes a road repair and renovation allocation of $3.25 million, which represents an increase of $750,000 over last year.
The first selectman said that he is favoring an alternate approach to exclusively paving roads this year, instead combining paving and chip sealing to accomplish resurfacing nearly 25 miles of road in this budget versus 9.1 miles last year.
The complete list of roads expands on the list prepared for the 2018/2019 budget vote and will be revealed at the July 16 BOS meeting. That list will be e-mailed and posted to the town website following the meeting, as well as included in next week’s print edition of The Newtown Bee and online at newtownbee.com.
Given the importance of pending road projects, Mr Rosenthal said periodic construction updates will be distributed via e-mail, posted to the website, and will be included in The Bee’s regular reporting on road repair progress as well.
“I had been talking with Fred and public works about how we could make the budget money go farther,” Mr Rosenthal said. “And the conversation turned to chip sealing. Right now it’s looking like we could finish close to 25 miles of road, including 13 miles of chip sealing.”
Both the first selectman and Mr Hurley said that chip sealing can only be done on roads that still have some good surface integrity, but those roads with significant damage will undergo a full paving treatment.
“My feeling is people in town want to see progress and results. So if we just do paving on 12 miles, that’s not even five percent of our road stock, so the stuff that’s in okay shape now will begin deteriorating, and we’ll just be running in place,” Mr Rosenthal said.
“So by extending these roads eight to 12 years by chip sealing — done correctly, it will be effective, and we could start catching up with paving on roads too far gone to chip seal — maybe we’ll be able to get into a maintenance mode and we can move away from chip sealing overall. But we need to do something now to forestall the degradation of roads right now,” he said.
Mr Rosenthal described the chip sealing process as “armor coating” that will allow for extending the lives of those roads.
Mr Hurley explained that chip sealing is considered to provide very effective maintenance resealing of road surfaces.
“We’re going to try and overcome some of these problems with the de-lamination without using full paving,” Mr Hurley said, describing the phenomenon of odd layers of paved surfacing peeling or breaking away, causing holes or stretches of uneven surfaces that are very uncomfortable and difficult to driver over.
“By making tens of miles serviceable each year with chip sealing, it allows us to catch up with the capital improvements,” the public works chief said. “Newtown has 275 miles of roads, and doing 10 miles each year — we’ll never get caught up. But if we can impact 25 miles a year, we can get a serviceable road system in town and still accomplish capital improvements as needed.”
Mr Hurley said for about a half-million dollars, crews can chip seal 13 or 14 miles of road versus one and a half miles of paving.
Instead of beginning with milling down a road and doing a capital repaving project, Mr Hurley said chip sealing starts by applying heavy filler and crack sealing to affected roads to smooth out the subsurface, before laying down an oil and stone mix that sets hard to smooth the riding surface.
The public works director said the oil-based surfacing is somewhat flexible and durable, so it will tend to survive both winter season freezing and melting as well as the abrasive impact of passing plows during winter storms.
“After we’ve evened out the road surfaces, think of it as putting a mat over the road to create a smooth riding surfaces,” Mr Hurley said. He added that roads like Toddy Hill, Hattertown, and Commerce Roads, and Narragansett Trail may also see paving patches applied to their worst sections.
Any roads receiving paved patches would then either be fully chip sealed or could remain otherwise untouched until the time comes for a full capital resurfacing or repaving that may or may not include new drainage work or maintenance on existing drainage systems.
Anyone who misses the July 16 BOS meeting can view it on the town meeting video system at newtown-ct.gov beginning the following morning.