Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Issues with quality of South Avenue road reconstruction?

A good portion of the 2000 work centered on improving drainage.
Plainfielders have been rightly concerned for years about the deteriorating condition of the South Avenue roadway, though many forget that the reason it was repaved and not reconstructed in 2000 was that there was insufficient money in the DOT grant that Mayor McWilliams acted to save when it was on the verge of being returned to the state for overlong delays by a previous administration in executing the grant.

Be that as it may, now that work has begun on reconstructing the roadway, especially the portion between Terrill Road and Leland Avenue, observers will be watching the work closely with an eye to the likely longevity of the current makeover.

So, it is with interest that I read the following thoughtful report from a regular reader who is concerned about the quality of the work being done. I am reprinting it below and am sending a copy to the project's engineer, Ms. Jackie Foushee of Remington & Vernick, as well as to Dr. Harold Yood (olddoc), who has posted several times about road work on his Doc's Potpourri blog.

Here are the reader's observations --

Hi Dan! Just took a trip down South Avenue..., and I am not encouraged by what I saw.

The contractor has milled off the road surface down to the sub-base along part of the westbound lane from Terrill Road.  The base was then graded out using a grader, and rolled compact.

Unfortunately, the base is a mix of soil and stone which, judging by the graded depth, will be left in place and topped off with the new asphalt surface.  This is a recipe for disaster (or at least a repeat of the bad road condition we've endured for a long time).

One of the problems with this soil/stone base is that it lacks the cohesion necessary for a high traffic roadway. It is known as "penetrating base" because it allows water to penetrate.  The silty soil and stone cannot compact fully, leaving the probability that the subsurface will shift over time, causing cracks, potholes, and surface deterioration.

Based on the traffic types and volume on South Avenue, this road should have a course of what is known as stabilized base, followed by the surface course.  Stabilized base is a mix of road stone and asphalt that is compacted into place to form a solid, impenetrable base. Properly laid and compacted, it is impenetrable and holds its form, making it much more resistive to cracking and deterioration of the finished road surface.

This job is only slightly better than the last one, when only part of the finished surface was milled off.  That project did not address the underlying base, and this one does not either.  I am not an engineer, but I doubt that South Avenue will  have a long and pothole-free life with the treatment it is currently receiving.
I hope this thoughtful commentary generates a discussion that will ensure the very best work possible is being done on South Avenue, and thank reader MT for taking the time to put these issues in writing.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.


olddoc said...

The reader is 100% on target. It is inconceivable that our "city engineers" would present and approve substandard plans that may not correct the basic problem. Will they bond the costs if the road does not have a 20 year life? Or will it be a mess in 10years like Woodland Ave?

Separate but related subject;no one has ever produced the original and modifications of the agreament that the City and State made when the city assumed responsibility for the highway.

olddoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

We seem to pay a lot of money to Remington & Verrick, but over the years, I don't see that we're getting our money's worth. Why do we keep hiring these firms if they are earing their keep and is there a process in place to verify the quality of work for the city.

Anonymous said...

If I recall from meetings I attended about the paving of South Avenue the "base layer" was to be"graded out" and then an emulsifier was to be added to stabilize the base before the asphalt was placed on it. This process was NOT done the last time the road was repaved.

Maybe they will use mustard as the emulsifier. This always works best for me when I prepare my fabulous vinaigrette!


Michael Townley said...

Adding an emulsifier to the existing base is like putting a bandaid on the wound. It will help for a while but I doubt it will give the equivalent of a new stabilized base course. Part of the problem is the fairly extreme amounts of soil that is evident in the graded-out areas. Emulsifier doesn't stick too well to dirt.