By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Council members approved 7-0 Tuesday the purchase of a crack-sealing machine, a device pulled behind a pickup truck that lays a rubberized material into cracks in street asphalt.
The city will pay $61,000 for the machine, said Maher Abed, the city's deputy director of operations for public works.
It is expected to last about 15 years with regular maintenance.
The city maintains 114 miles of street and 50 miles of alley, Abed said, adding that roughly one-third of the city's streets can be repaired using the crack-sealing machine.
Craig Fulton, the city's public works and utilities director, wrote in a memo to council members that more than 75 percent of the city's streets are rated in either “poor” or “fair” condition.
The last time the city had specific funding set aside for residential street repair was $337,000 for a chip-sealing project in 2005, Abed said.
“This is well overdue in terms of maintenance needs for our streets and alleys,” Abed said.
Fulton said chip-sealing covers the entire surface of a road, rather than fixing individual cracks, and is more expensive than crack-sealing.
Fulton said money set aside since 2005 for residential street repair had been diverted so the city could match federal or state grants for larger capital projects, such as the Eighth Street bridge replacement — completed in 2008 — and ongoing Lauridsen Boulevard bridge replacement.
Once the crack-sealing machine is delivered in October, Fulton said, city public works crews plan to start street repairs immediately.
“We want to get the work started before we get into the rainy season [and] take advantage of all the dry weather we can get,” Fulton said.
Crews will focus first on filling cracks in Eighth and Fifth streets and Lauridsen Boulevard, Fulton added.
Abed said replacement or more extensive repairs will be needed on some city streets, such as a large stretch of 18th Street, since crack-sealing has limits to the extent of damage it can repair.
Crews likely would take up no more than one lane at a time when crack-sealing a stretch of street, Fulton said, adding that flaggers likely would be in place to direct traffic around the work.
Abed estimated a residential city block could be done in two to three hours with traffic control already set up and work crews ready to start.
Abed said crack seals can last between three to eight years and represent one of the cheapest way to repair city streets.
Crack-seal vs. chip-seal
Crack-sealing costs between 50 cents and 85 cents per square yard, Abed said, with chip-sealing costing between $4 and $10 per square yard.
Complete street reconstruction can cost between $65 and $140 per square yard, Abed explained, and would cost the city about $138.8 million to replace all the city streets that need repair.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.