The preventative maintenance will cover between 60 and 70 regional roads in Sparks, Reno and Washoe County, which the RTC said translates into 12 million square feet or 200 lane miles of pavement. The project’s estimated cost, $7 million, is being funded through the fuel and sales tax money the RTC receives.
City of Sparks Transportation Manager Jon Ericson said the slurry seal projects happening on Sparks roads, which are considered regional roads through the RTC contract, are running “fairly smoothly” in the second week of work. Vista Boulevard, the Sparks road receiving the most surface area care, began its portion of the road work on July 1 and Ericson said the remainder is nearly complete.
“We had a few hiccups at the beginning of the project, but I think a lot of that has been ironed out,” he said, “A lot of the striping has been completed and we are anticipating having the vast majority of the work on Vista being completed by the end of the week.”
The RTC described the slurry seal work as part of the “keeping good roads good” initiative focused on the streets enduring the harsh desert conditions in addition to constant travel. Ericson said road crews return about three or four years after completing the initial paving on ‘regional roads’ for the slurry seal treatment. Residential roads vary in slurry seal treatments.
“It rejuvenates the pavement and puts a wearing course on it so it protects the pavement and extends the life of the pavement,” Ericson said. “It is basically a fine sand-gravel mixture, and then they put the emulsion down with some water and it has a water-oil mixture. They apply that to the roadway and that is what you see when it initially goes down and it has that wet look.
“Then the water evaporates out of there and the emulsion is what keeps that fine sand and gravel sticking to the ground. It is a protective course that goes over the top of the pavement.”
Sparks roads receiving the slurry seal treatment during the first two weeks of the RTC’s project include: Vista Boulevard, Loop Road, Salomon Circle, Freeport Boulevard, Southern Way, Icehouse Avenue, International Place, Glendale Avenue, Steneri Way, Bergin Way, Linda Way, Greg Street and Madison Avenue.
Local motorists can expect to see work crews out for day and night shifts with minimal delays expected on local roads.
“On RTC projects, we keep one lane in each direction open,” Ericson said. “At the intersections there is a little bit more time allotted for getting the equipment into those tight quarters. There is a little bit more delay at traffic signals, but for the most part, with the type of slurry that they are applying to Vista and the other regional roads, that material dries and you are able to drive on it within 15 to 20 minutes depending upon the weather.
“It is one of those things where the daytime slurry work goes really fast, whereas the removal of the striping and the placement of the striping and the thermoplastic stop bars and crosswalks and arrows have to be burned in. So there is a little bit of time to do that work. It is safer for the contractor to do the striping work at night because you don't have the volume of traffic.”
Ericson said the slurry seals are done every seven or eight years for regional roads and can be done every 10 or 12 years on City of Sparks residential roads. He said the amount of slurry that has worn or peeled off factors very much in the need to reseal the road.
“On a residential road, where you just have predominantly small, passenger-type vehicles, the slurry will last for 10 or 12 years,” Ericson said, “And we don’t want to have to do big maintenance other than some crack sealing and patching. What we are trying to do with the slurry seal is keep roadways in that preventative mode longer because it is cheaper to do preventative maintenance than it is to do corrective or rehabilitation.
“We do pavement inspections on a three-year basis. Every roadway segment in the City of Sparks gets inspected using the Paver Program developed by the USACE and the Pavement Condition Index. Based on that number we would either do preventative maintenance, corrective maintenance or rehabilitation.”
One Sparks resident, who identified herself as Janet while waiting for the bus Tuesday afternoon on York Way, said she was happy to see them repaving the roads in her neighborhood a short time ago. She said it boosted the appeal of the area.
“Everything looks better,” she said. “Some of these roads were really worn down. I don’t know how often they replace them, but I think some of them may have been overdue.”
Another Sparks resident, Erik Ollsen, said he would like to see more residential roads with fresh asphalt, even if it meant some delays in traffic.
“I think even when we’re down to one lane it is worth it,” he said, referencing the work being done in east Sparks. “Waiting a few extra minutes is not so bad when you think of how great the roads look around here. With all the new shopping centers coming in, having nice roads leading to them make the city look great is important.”