Asphalt pavers and drum compactors are back on the road.
After a year of many road projects being shelved as cities grapple with budget holes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer resurfacing season is underway again, leaving a welcome whiff of hot tar in the air.
And for paving companies, the to-do list is long.
“We just finished (the) town of Woodstock. We are currently working in West Windsor and Enfield. We have just completed the town of Grafton. We have work on Hanover and Lebanon to come. Hartford yet to come. Lyme and Orford yet to come. Corinth yet to come, ”said Stuart Chase, president of the West Lebanon paving company Blaktop, which manages numerous resurfacing contracts between towns in the Upper Valley. “This summer has been a lot busier than last summer.
Road resurfacing projects fall into two categories: roads maintained by the state and those maintained by cities. Drivers along the roads of the Upper Valley will encounter projects undertaken by the two governing bodies this summer, although this may not be obvious to the casual observer.
New Hampshire and Vermont are contributing significant sums – in some cases aided by federal stimulus funds funneled into each state – to resurface roads in the Upper Valley, according to state transportation departments.
In Grafton and Sullivan counties, the state’s major resurfacing projects slated for this summer, according to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s online project information center include:
■ Route 12A between Claremont and Cornish
■ Route 4 between Lebanon and Canaan
■ Chemin East Thetford between Lyme and the Lyme-East Thetford bridge
■ Stretches along Route 10 between Croydon Flat and Grantham
Across the river in Windsor and Orange counties, Vermont state resurfacing projects this summer include
■ Route 113 between Chelsea and Thetford
■ Route 14 between the Hartford Library and the intersection of routes 4 and 5
■ Route 4 between downtown Woodstock and the eastern end of the village at Sawyer Road, as well as sections along routes 106 and 12
■ A 9 mile stretch along Route 5 between Norwich and Thetford
■ A 12 mile section of Interstate 89 between Hartford and Sharon
The road reconstruction project underway along Route 132 between the City of Norwich line and Tucker Hill Road in Thetford is a project of the City of Thetford and, although identified numerically as a national road, is in made a route from the town of Thetford.
Thetford City Manager Bryan Gazda said the “basecoat” for the project will be completed this year and the final top coating will be completed next season. Thetford is also laying a ‘top coat’ of pavement between Tucker Road and the South Strafford urban line this summer (voters approved a $ 4 million bond for the Route 132 project last November) .
Pete Kulbacki, director of public works for Hanover, said his department plans to file – assuming voters approve the city’s budget at the city assembly next week – 5,000 tonnes of asphalt on the roads of the city this summer.
“Usually we’d be halfway through our paving already, but there’s nothing we can do until we have the money,” said Kulbacki, who estimates the city will spend around $ 400,000 this year on the paving.
Jim Taylor, director of public works at Enfield, estimates that he will need approximately 2,100 tonnes of asphalt to pave Livingston Lodge Road, Bud-Mil Road, Warren Road, Sloan Road and sections of Algonquin Road.
“They started this afternoon at Livingston Lodge after finishing at West Windsor,” Taylor said of contractor Blaktop on Wednesday. “They called at lunchtime and said, ‘We would really like to start today’” – a fortuitous adjustment, as it ended up raining on Wednesday night.
Taylor said Enfield’s budget for paving this year is $ 175,000, roughly the same as in previous years, but with the cost of asphalt rising from $ 10 to $ 68 per tonne, it less bang for the buck.
“Oil prices were down last summer because of COVID,” Taylor said, leading to some of the lowest asphalt prices he’s ever seen.
In Lebanon, Everett Hammond, deputy director of public works, said the city plans to resurface or “block the fog” – light application of a diluted asphalt emulsion – a total of 5.5 miles of the 98 miles of city roads, or 5.6% of the total.
With the current demand for road construction equipment throughout New England, milling equipment is “hard to come by” – even for a single day – although he expects to have the machine on hand. ‘by the end of the month.
Hammond estimates that it costs about $ 105,000 to re-surf a 22-foot-wide one-mile stretch of road with a 2-inch asphalt depth at the current cost of nearly $ 70 per ton for asphalt – before taking into account the cost of “traffic control”. Which is run by off-duty police officers at overtime rates of pay, thus increasing project costs by the thousands.
Lebanon will spend $ 700,000 on paving this year, Hammond said, which includes $ 500,000 allocated to the road budget plus $ 200,000 carried over from last year’s budget.
Still, it’s not enough to cover the 8-10 miles of city roads that Hammond believes Lebanon needs to resurface every year, which is one reason to experiment with fog tightness, a cheaper alternative. .
“That’s why we are trying different applications, to increase mileage,” he said.
Hannah Tyler, director of public works for Hartford, said the city will repaving West Gilson Avenue, Chittenden Way, Morey Lane, Wrights Reservoir Road, Safford Road and Willard Road – a total of about 3 km requiring 3,100 tonnes of asphalt .
A little resurfacing work, right? Not enough.
Two miles “may not seem like much, but we are doing a thorough reconstruction of the road,” Tyler explained. “That means they go in and take out all the asphalt, grind it up, put it back into the bed and the paving.”
Hartford will spend around $ 414,000 on resurfacing its roads, which will be done by Blaktop, and Tyler said they are expected to finish the job by September.
Chase, the Blaktop executive, said the company employs up to 50 people and has three crews working 10 hours a day during the road resurfacing season, which runs from May 1 to Thanksgiving. In a typical year Blaktop will lay 80,000 tonnes of asphalt, but this year the company appears to be approaching 100,000 tonnes.
“It would be a great year for us,” said Chase. “We’re probably closer to that than we’ve been for several years. We are only halfway through our season.
Chase considers the increase in demand for asphalt to be directly linked to COVID-19 last summer.
“Everyone was worried about what the future held, so the money was not paid to pay for these projects,” he said. “Now the cities are making up for their lack of capacity to do the job last summer.”
Contact John Lippman at [email protected]