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'Cuz it's the law

Why is it that we hired a California firm out of Sacramento to repave our roads here locally? Why did we send our money to California when we have very good businesses that can pave our local roads. I know it is the bottom line, but this paving job is the worst I have ever seen. I think all Medford residents need to know that whoever makes the decisions to care for our roads hired a California firm. Very sad.

— Lynn M., Medford

It all boils down to state law, Lynn. The city, like other municipalities throughout Oregon, has to operate under state laws that require the acceptance of the lowest qualified bid. In this case, the city was required to pick Valley Slurry Seal Company of Sacramento, Calif., for the $825,420 contract to resurface a number of roads throughout Medford.

The only other company that bid on the project was Intermountain Slurry Seal Inc. at $1,017,017.

We hate to break it to you, Lynn, but Intermountain Slurry is located out of Sparks, Nev., so neither company is local. It's not unusual to find that a company with local offices is controlled by a corporation in another state.

Cory Crebbin, director of Medford Public Works, said the type of resurfacing, known as a cape seal, is an attempt by the city to cut down on its costs. First the roadway is sealed, which looks kind of rough to most motorists. Then a microsurface of asphalt is applied that gives it a finished road look. Crebbin said the surface will improve over time, but the city plans to review the surface to see how it holds up.

By using this relatively new process, the city should save millions of dollars over time. The cost of the sealing process is about one-third to one-half of a typical paving project, Crebbin said.

Once the roads are striped again, he thinks motorists won't have as many complaints.

Crebbin said there were scheduling problems and inadequate signs placed during the project that caused frustration for the city and for motorists. Medford crews could do some of the work more efficiently and better in many cases, Crebbin said. However, the city doesn't have some of the specialized equipment to handle some of these jobs.

In addition, under state law, the city is required to bid out projects that are estimated to cost more than $125,000.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.