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MailTribune.com
  • On the surface

    While some Medford residents have complained about recent pavement work, city officials are quite pleased
  • Some Medford residents are unhappy about the rougher look and ride of local streets after workers rolled out a new repaving process over the summer. But city officials say they think the savings in tax dollars more than balance out the occasional asphalt wrinkle.
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  • Some Medford residents are unhappy about the rougher look and ride of local streets after workers rolled out a new repaving process over the summer. But city officials say they think the savings in tax dollars more than balance out the occasional asphalt wrinkle.
    "It's an inferior job," said Rick Faust, a 61-year-old who lives near Delta Waters Road. "You can tell it went to the lowest bidder."
    As required by state law, the city did indeed pick the low bidder. But officials say they got what they expected, both in terms of the resulting road surfaces and the cost savings.
    Valley Slurry Seal Co. of Sacramento, Calif., received the $825,420 contract to resurface portions of numerous streets, including Crater Lake Avenue, East Main Street, Central Avenue and 10th Street.
    Larry Beskow, city road engineer, said the estimated cost for a traditional asphalt repaving job on the same streets was about $2.5 million.
    The new type of resurfacing, known as a cape seal, is an attempt by the city to cut its road maintenance costs by more than 50 percent. The process involves sealing the roadway and spreading small rocks over the surface. Then a layer of asphalt is applied that gives it a finished look, though one that is rougher than conventional asphalt repaving jobs.
    The asphalt layer is only three-eighths to a half-inch thick, much thinner than a typical paving job, which is 1.5 to 2 inches thick.
    "Going into this, we recognized there would be sacrifices as far as quality," Beskow said. "A lot of the quality issues are visual. I think if we were to blindfold them, and drive them around town, I don't think they would be able to tell the difference."
    The city, which has received a number of complaints about the paving, will address one problem that residents have pointed out. Manhole covers that are too low will be raised, Beskow said.
    The city checked with other cities such as Salem that have used the same type of reduced-cost resurfacing.
    "We did get what we paid for, and we're happy with it," Beskow said.
    The city is looking at a number of ways to cut expenses because of the sharp increase in the price of oil products. Asphalt, which cost $50 a ton just several years ago, now costs $70. The city has 250 miles of streets to maintain.
    Beskow said the cost of asphalt is so high the city has considered installing concrete on some heavily traveled streets and intersections, similar to the intersection of Crater Lake Avenue and McAndrews Road. Also, the hot summers cause asphalt to ripple under heavy truck traffic.
    While city officials say they are happy with the finished work of Valley Slurry Seal, they do express concern about delays in completing some streets, which resulted in more irritation by residents.
    "We would like less delays and less inconvenience to the traveling public," he said.
    Lynn Faust, Rick Faust's wife, said the work on Delta Waters took a long time, and she was constantly battling all the little pebbles tracked into her house.
    "We spent all summer with gravel," said the 51-year-old Medford woman.
    Faust said another resurfacing project on Cheltenham Way off Delta Waters was completed in short order and actually has a better road surface.
    Another nearby resident, Jason Flitton, said the uneven road surface makes it more difficult to steer the car, and some of the edges wreak havoc on the suspension.
    "The road was smoother before the work," the 38-year-old resident said as he surveyed Delta Waters Tuesday.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.
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