County's paving prep work underway

Using the philosophy that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cured asphalt, Island County road crews have started preliminary road repairs before summer paving projects begin.

For the next month or so drivers can expect to see slowdowns on many county roads, as crews dig up and patch bad spots prior to paving.

The prep work is done by county workers, while the paving is contracted out to paving companies. The bids have not yet been awarded.

This year the estimated budget for all types of paving on the north end of Whidbey Island is approximately $780,000. That includes construction and maintenance paving, chip sealing and shoulder widening.

While some of the roads slated for repaving may not seem to be in bad shape, Mark Green, shop supervisor for the Coupeville Roads shop, said it’s good to stay ahead of the game.

“We have some of the best roads in the state,” he said, because they try to get to them before they are too costly to fix.

Countywide 54.65 miles of road will be resurfaced, for an estimated $1.6 million.

Road repairs are prioritized based on a state road rating system. Factors include amount of deterioration, number of years since the last paving, amount of cracking, and the amount of traffic.

Some of the larger projects this season that will be undertaken by the Coupeville shop include maintenance paving on almost all the roads in Admiral Cove, chip sealing nearly the entire length of Keystone Hill Road, and chip sealing 1.48 miles of Parker Road, from Highway 20 to the Coupeville city limits. The city of Coupeville completed paving on Parker Road from that point into the town last summer.

One half mile of Mutiny Bay Road will get a complete construction paving treatment, for $64,500.

Large projects out of the Oak Harbor roads shop include maintenance paving on three-quarters of a mile of Donald Avenue from Mark Street to Stephen Street, and Jones Road from just past Krieg Lane to Sunday Drive.

Hastie Lake Road will receive a chip seal resurfacing from Zylstra Road to West Beach Road, and Strawberry Point Road will be chip sealed from Polnell Road to the top of Schoolhouse Hill.

Chip seal, or sealcoat, is a mixture of oil and rock which sets up by being driven on, while maintenance paving lays down a layer of asphalt approximately three quarters of an inch thick.

It’s not the longest project, but one of the priciest is a construction paving of Goldie Road from Ault Field Road to the Whidbey Naval Air Station’s Charles Porter Gate. The tenth of a mile project is expected to cost $26,400.

Green said the county expects to save time and money with a newly acquired piece of asphalt-munching machinery called the Asphalt Zipper.

The bucket-mounted grinder will be used to chop out and grind up the asphalt taken from the area to be repatched before paving. The machine can be used with equipment the county already owns, and removes asphalt at a much faster pace than previous methods. And, the ground-up asphalt can be reused, saving even more money.

County commissioners approved accepting the sole bid for the Zipper from the manufacturer, Asphalt Zipper, Inc., of Pleasant Grove, Utah, for $86,932.41 total.

Drivers may notice a new addition to construction signs on county roads: large orange signs warning motorcyclists to use extreme caution. The signs are mandated by a new state law — one that came without funding.

Road director Jack Taylor had to ask the commissioners for an addition $7,768 in funding for 160 of the signs. The bill came into effect Jan. 1, and all counties must comply for construction this summer.

Green said in addition to vigilant road repairs, there is one more factor that makes Island County roads among the best: “We’ve got crews that care — they live here.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynews or call 675-6611

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