Half-million-dollar citywide chip seal project completed

Thumbs up: Crews with Herco Inc., were laying down swaths of oil and rock chips at the intersection of South State and 5th streets last Wednesday, Aug. 9. Grangeville’s chip seal project started at the first of the month and finished last Friday, Aug. 11.

GRANGEVILLE — Complete and under budget, city chip sealing is complete. Grangeville Public Works asks drivers to keep it slow and steady until streets can fully set up with the first good cold weather this winter.

“It went really good. We were right on the numbers for what we wanted to hit,” said Jeff McFrederick, public works director, with contractor Herco Inc. Asphalt and Paving of Lewiston chip sealing 238,000 square yards of city streets throughout approximately one-third of town. Work started two weeks ago and ended last Friday, Aug. 11. Street sweeping activity will continue for another week.

“It’s curing pretty good,” he said, helped by weather cooling into the 70s. Traffic will continue to compact the chip seal –- “That’s the best thing to do,” — which will continue to work down, until it gets really cold at which point it will be set up.

From McFrederick’s observations, chip-sealed streets are holding up. To avoid undue wear during seal setup, he said drivers need to keep speeds at 15 mph, and to not stop and start fast.

With all treated streets, “Drive slow until the first really good cold spell,” McFrederick said, “then it will be set up to what it’s going to be from there out.”

This especially applies to D, Pine and Florence streets on the north side, he said, former gravel roads given a special treatment called BST (bituminous surface treatment) involving bigger and thicker aggregate.

“We’re being creative with this BST; it’s never been done in Grangeville,” he said.

Normally, BST is used on rural gravel roads that provides a base like asphalt, which can be subsequently maintained with a chip seal. According to McFrederick, this is a cost-savings option that addresses ongoing issues of washboarding and dust with these gravel roads in town.

“We’re continuing to come with the best ideas we can to fix Grangeville streets,” he said. This was an issue for the public in a citywide survey conducted last year, results for which were released in January that included the lowest ratings for public services included sidewalks, curbs and streets. “And we’re working on it,” he said.

The nearly $500,000 chip seal project was billed as the city’s largest, and according to McFrederick it came in approximately $40,000-plus below what was budgeted. Factors in these cost savings included the size of the project, which allowed for lower per-square-yard prices, as well as a good working relationship between the city and Herco, according to McFrederick.

“I think the public will be really happy,” said Mayor Bruce Walker, during a project report at the Aug. 7 city council meeting, “this year and next year,” he continued, as they see how the work holds up. He also extended his thanks to public works for their efforts on the projects: “Your guys have done an excellent job.”

From this point, McFrederick plans to approach the city council on using the balance of project funds to finish off some east side work, and also do patching along a portion of South Hall Street with a possible chip seal later.

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