Santa Rosa spends to maintain good roads

  • On Lake Park Drive in Santa Rosa Pierre Velasquez of Central Valley Engineering and Asphalt Inc. of Sacramento smooths out a slurry seal on the road as part of a street maintenance program in Santa Rosa, Tuesday July 23, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

The roads in Fountaingrove and Oakmont, two of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, are in nice shape, with most ranked by the city as either "good" or "very good."

So why is the city spending nearly $400,000 to resurface them this summer while streets plagued with potholes in other parts of town are crumbling like granola?

It's a question the city gets a lot, but the answer is pretty simple: It's easier and cheaper to keep good roads in good shape with a coat of sealant than it is to rebuild roads that are beyond repair.

"What you see is pavement preservation," said Clay Thistle, an associate civil engineer in the city's Transportation and Public Works Department. "It's like the preventative maintenance you would do on your car to avoid that big repair."

A contractor under the direction of city road crews began covering residential roads in Fountaingrove this week with a coat of black goop known as slurry seal, a mixture of oil, water and small rocks spread to a depth of about 3/16 of an inch.

The mixture dries in a just a few hours, leaving a road surface that looks as good as new, is more skid-resistant and, most importantly, protects the underlying road by sealing out water, Thistle explained.

It's a cost-effective way to prolong the life of roads and prevent them from becoming prematurely potholed or severely cracked, sometimes described as alligatored, Thistle said.

Once that happens, a road has to be either resurfaced with new asphalt or rebuilt completely, both of which are far more expensive than slurry sealing, he said.

Crews from Central Valley Engineering & Asphalt of Roseville started Monday at Lake Park Drive and will work their way up the parkway over seven days. Most of those streets are about 15years old. Then they'll switch to Oakmont, where the streets are about 20 years old, for three days starting July 31

The roads are closed to traffic during the work but reopen at the end of each day. The sealant takes up to a week to cure completely, depending on the weather, so drivers are asked to tread lightly on the fresh surface for the first few days.

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