Expert weighs in on city street project

GOODMAN -- City council members discussed the possible methods of repairing the streets within the city. Some members of the council assert the city should pave only certain streets and then include other preventative measures such as chip and seal. These reasons were geared toward cost-effective results.

Other members believed the city should invest in a complete street pavement project in order to better the city for the long term.

So, the city council meeting on Jan. 17 had a special guest to weigh in on these matters.

"I looked around to find somebody that I thought would be a really, really prime candidate that had been in this business for a very long time. And I think he is one of the premium ones that we can get over here. Mr. (Dave) Andrews," said Mayor J.R. Fisher.

Andrews has been in the asphalt construction business since 1978. He's worked with asphalt, concrete, chip and seal. He is an estimator and project manager for APAC-Central Inc. Members of the board asked him a few questions to shed light on the possible methods to repair the city's streets.

The first question was in regard to chip and seal.

Chip and seal is a pavement surface treatment that combines one or more layers of asphalt with one or more layers of fine aggregates, such as sand, gravel, crushed stones, or other materials.

"Yeah, there is a place for chip and seal," said Andrews. "(But) it doesn't add any structure (or) any strength, where asphalt would. I'm not saying there's not an application for it. But if you want to add strength and longevity, asphalt is the way to go."

Fisher said, "What I was advocating for is to pave all (streets) and then come back in a couple of years when it's cured and do a chip and seal maintenance program. Would that be feasible?"

Andrews agreed with the idea of a maintenance program and informed the council that, depending on the streets, the program wouldn't need to be implemented until "eight or 10 years" in the future.

"When would you suggest doing a fog seal? At what condition do you look at the road and say, 'this needs a fog seal on it' to take care of future problems before they arise?" said Alderman John Bunch.

Fog seal is a thin coating of a dilute asphalt emulsion that is sprayed onto the pavement surface. Some benefits of fog seal are that it can waterproof road surfaces and seal small cracks in the asphalt. It can slow down surface aging and improve its appearance.

It's beneficial for "parking lots, things like that. (Areas) where you want to make them aesthetically nice looking," said Andrews.

He went on to explain that, as time goes on, asphalt will turn gray as it oxidizes. While a fog seal will address small cracks and enhance the appearance of the asphalt, it isn't a viable option for long-term longevity.

Andrews offered a suggestion. "I'm a firm believer in fiber. I was totally against it five years ago ... As it turns out, it's just been fantastic. The results that we're seeing on jobs that we've done, they have just been amazing."

According to GeoSolutions, "pavement fibers can be made of both natural and synthetic binders by including fiberglass, wax and Kevlar. They have been shown to increase the strength and service life of an asphalt concrete mixture."

Since kevlar is inherently flame resistant, it is advantageous as it won't be affected by the heat of the asphalt. It's also an optimal choice for preventing "reflective cracking."

Fisher asked: "What can we expect the fiber to increase the cost per ton?"

"It adds $10 a ton," said Andrews. "I think you get more bang for your buck with that."

Some members asked what would be the difference in cost if the streets were paved with fiber asphalt instead of chip and seal. Andrews couldn't answer the question at that time.

Most pavement companies don't offer chip and seal services because chip and seal margins are "very, very low," and companies would have to "cover multiple states just to keep (their workers) busy" to make a profit.

One resident spoke up, asking the city, "Where's our budget?"

The city said its city street revenue fund has $225,877.

Fisher added, "That's why I'm proposing financing instead of paying our budget a year to fill potholes. (We) make that payment and be done with it ... And the way I'm wanting to finance it is only to use half of our income."

As of now, the city is still exploring its options and "trying to get it done the best way and [with the] best bang for our buck that could possibly be done," Fisher said.