Road job held up by rain

I drove past a flashing roadwork sign on East McAndrews Sunday that kind of confused me. The flashing message referred to roadwork on Sept. 25-28, but Sunday was Sept. 29? Did someone forget to unplug the readerboard?

— Ron J., Medford

The flashing sign has been put through its paces in spades during recent works as Intermountain Slurry Seal of Salt Lake City has scrambled first to find suitable materials and then battled rain in a quest to finish a job scheduled for completion by Labor Day weekend.

Alas, we here at SYA global headquarters see clear parallels between Richard III's predicament at the Battle of Bosworth and the road resurfacers of East McAndrews Road, where:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Perhaps all is not lost, save for the month of September, which has come and gone.

"It was supposed to be a pretty straightforward and simple paving job," said Cory Crebbin, Medford's public works director.

The nail in this slurry seal micosurfacing procedure turned out to be the rock component used in the asphalt, cement and rock mix. The contractor couldn't find the right kind of rock in the region to begin the job.

"The rock has to be a certain consistency, so that it works right with the asphalt mixture," Crebbin said. "It's chemically and structure-based. It has to be a pretty carefully balanced mix, the rock can't be too porous or it doesn't stick together well."

Once the right rock was found, the project began. So did the rain.

By Monday, the National Weather Service recorded 2.76 inches of precipitation, the second-highest total in Medford, dating back to when all the roads were dirt.

"You can't put this stuff down when the pavement is wet," Crebbin said. "They keep trying to get out there and keep getting delayed. If we wouldn't have had material problems, they would have been done."

By the way, Ron, travelers on McAndrews are not the only ones wondering about the come-and-gone dates. A similar sign is posted on East Main Street, where work has been stymied by the same issues.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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