City pulverizes road problem

CITY OFFICIALS think they have found a way to economically repave sections of some of the city’s worst roads.

  • Apr. 6, 2011 5:00 p.m.

CITY OFFICIALS think they have found a way to economically repave sections of some of the city’s worst roads.

Instead of a full-on project involving digging down at least three feet and building up a proper base in combination with new water and sewer lines, officials believe they can address some of the worst roads using a pulverizing machine.

It chews down past existing asphalt and into the roadbed up to a depth of 14 inches to create a new foundation for new pavement.

Officials hope they can piggyback onto a transportation ministry plan to bring up a pulverizing machine for a project on Kalum Lake road this year.

The city would have to strike its own deal with whoever does get the transportation ministry contract but it would be spared the cost of having the pulverizing machine brought to the area because it would already be here for the Nisga’a Highway job.

The outline of the plan emerged after council members, during a March 31 budget session, spent time with senior staffers to deal with a growing list of deteriorating roads.

Budget cuts reduced the city to spending just over $1 million this year to rebuild the 4600 block of Davis Ave.

“The big dig and replace of infrastructure, those are the costly projects,” mayor Dave Pernarowski said. “Maybe part of our acceleration of road repair needs to also include resurfacing projects, not just the big major dig.”

The repaving list using a pulverizing takes in five road sections to be worked on this summer –  Medeek Ave. near Braun Island, the Frank Street railway crossing by Hwy 16, the south end of Pear St., Haugland Ave. between Molitor St. and Eby St., and the bottom of Lanfear Hill.

The repaving budget has been boosted to $171,600  from the annual amount of $50,000 per year, an increase that still needs to be finalized as the city works toward approving its spending plan for the year.

City officials said repaving a road after it has been pulverized could produce a surface with a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.

That’s not as long as a complete road reconstruction but considered possible if there is a decent enough base with which to work.

“The city has expressed interest if we do…bring one of these machines into town,” said local transportation ministry official Don Ramsay of the pulverizer plan.

The pulverizer goes a bit deeper than hot-in-place machines which grind up just the asphalt, mix it with new material, and lays it back down again.

Ramsay said the ministry doesn’t always let out a contract to bring a pulverizer up north as it depends upon the types of projects approved each year.

“It’s in the area, so….[we’re] coordinat[ing] times to work with that machine while it’s in the area,” Pernarowski said.

“I think we’ve got a really good push on [resurfacing projects’ for this spring. And it’s going to have a nice impact…there’s obviously a lot of roads that need that kind of attention,” he continued. “It’s a good start.”

“We’re going to go after the really bad sections of those roads, and if we’re able to move a little bit more of that capital dollars over, we might even be able to do a few more,” Pernarowski said.

For now, the portion of McConnell Ave. from Thomas St. to Marshall St., considered to be the worst road in the city, won’t be pulverized.

It’ll be patched up as best as possible because it is now scheduled for a complete reconstruction next year.

“We’re going to go in and do as good a job, do some serious patching on that road once the frost heaves settle down,” Pernarowski said. “It won’t be perfect but for this summer, it’ll be usable.”

The city had hoped to rebuild this stretch of McConnell in 2009 at a cost of $1.2 million but senior government grant applications were turned down.

It was then put on the list for 2013, at a cost increasing to $1.47 million, but after last week’s meeting, the date was advanced to next year.

“Of course, if additional infrastructure grants come available, we’ll certainly be applying to put that towards the McConnell project, because that’s a fairly large project,” said Pernarowski.

A revised five-year roadwork plan calls for the following:

• 4600 block Davis Ave. for 2011: Bear Creek Contracting started work March 28, and the final estimated project cost comes to $1.105 million, under the original estimated budget of  $1.183 million.

• McConnell Ave. from Thomas St. to Marshall St. for 2012

• Park Ave. west of Kenney St., originally planned for 2012, pushed back to 2013

• Scott Ave. from Kalum St. to Hanson St. by the health unit is new on the list and slated for 2013

• Apsley St. from Lakelse Ave. to Greig. Ave. by the curling rink is also new on the list and scheduled for 2013

• Graham Ave. from Kalum St. to Eby St.  in 2014

• McConnell Ave. from Eby St. to Sparks St. in 2015

• Walsh Ave. from Eby St. to Sparks St. in 2015