Street maintenance is probably the most visible, and likely, the most criticized aspect of City services. It’s not that it’s rocket science and the City can’t figure out how to do it; we know what to do and when it needs to be done — we just don’t have the cash flow to do it. So like most cities, we prioritize and try to fix the worst offenders each year — leaving some rough conditions on a lot of City streets knowing full well that they will likely appear on next year’s worst list. It’s not something we’re proud of but like a lot of things in life we work hard to make the best of a bad situation. In the spirit of trying to prolong street life in Kent, the City is beginning it’s annual crack seal program. It’s not nearly as pretty as a newly paved street but crack seal is a proven way to extend pavement life which until we grow a new money tree is the best strategy we have to stretch tax dollars.
Street maintenance as a practice has actually come a long way and crack seal is a good example of the science behind pavement maintenance. Crack Sealing is a localized treatment method used to prevent water and debris from entering a crack thus preventing premature pavement failures, deterioration and potholes. The chemical sealant forms a long-lasting, resilient seal which is flexible and expandable in varying and extreme pavement temperatures. Crack sealing is an inexpensive and effective method for extending pavement life that is typically utilized on average to above average streets in respect to pavement condition.
The City is beginning construction of the above referenced project, which includes work on several streets. The following streets are a part of the Crack Seal Maintenance portion of the 2009 Annual Street Program:
Normal traffic patterns will be maintained and no road closings will be required as a part of this project. This type of work is performed utilizing a “moving” construction zone. Vehicles utilizing any street that is being crack sealed can expect minor traffic delays since the traffic will be reduced to one lane where the work is being performed. Residents and businesses may have a temporary loss of access (5 minutes or less) to their drives as the construction work passes by their property.
“That the roads of America are proverbially ill built and ill kept is due partly to the climate, with its alterations of severe frost, occasional torrential rains and long droughts; partly to the hasty habits of the people who are too busy with other things and too eager to use their capital in private enterprises to be willing to spend freely on highways; partly also to the thinness of population which is except in a few manufacturing districts much less dense than in Europe.”
Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, 1888