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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rough Road

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Some residents of Westport’s Greens Farms area were out on Hillandale Road today protesting the recent resurfacing of Hillandale, Iris Lane and Church Street using a road surface treatment known as chip seal. The technique is less expensive than full asphalt repaving but results in a rougher surface, some loose chip stones immediately after it is put down, and louder noise from rolling tires. The town’s Public Works Department says it is using the treatment on less traveled roads because of skyrocketing asphalt costs. Residents sought signatures seeking a Representative Town Meeting (RTM) review of the town’s use of the surface treatment. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Anne Hardy for WestportNow.com


Posted 09/28/08 at 09:46 PM  Permalink


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This process was also recently used on Stony Brook and Woodside in Old Hill. It is unsafe and environmentally unsound.

Chip sealing is used extensively in Fairfield and Easton. It creates an extreme hazard for bicyclists, quite literally threatening our lives. The surface it creates is uneven and unstable, and I know of at least one cyclist who has broken a collarbone falling on this kind of surface. Roads resurfaced in this way endanger the safety of anyone who rides on them. In addition, roads resurfaced in this way do not hold up as well as roads that are properly paved, so the perceived cost advantages are questionable.

The process also creates an environmental hazard. It involves the spreading of hot liquid hydrocarbons on the road, which are then covered in loose gravel. The petroleum byproducts then leach into watersheds. The dust created by cars travelling on such roads spreads over neighbouring lawns and gardens, and is permeated with petroleum byproducts which coat everything they fall on with a greasy layer akin to soot. Again, with rainfall and washing, this ends up in water.

It would be constructive for Westport to abandon this process as a) unsafe, b) environmentally questionable, and c) not offering a clear cost advantage.

Posted by Iain Bruce on September 28, 2008 at 10:43 PM | #

Dear unhappy residents,
I didn’t see you out today, but I drove on your “newly paved” roads today, and I assumed that the Department of Public Works (DPW) had simply made the road rough in preparation for repaving. I can’t believe that your road is “finished”! The road is bumby and noisy to drive on. I’d be happy to sign your petition.
FYI—The department head of DPW probably will not care about your problem.

Posted by Lori Franklin on September 28, 2008 at 10:48 PM | #

BEST NOT TO RESURFASE:  The noise to the road residents, the damage to cars with the rocks dinging paint, danger to pedestrians and bikers.
What were the persons in charge thinking,  my dirt road up in Maine is more friendly than this cocktail of cheap road fix

Posted by chip stephens on September 28, 2008 at 10:53 PM | #

It’s on Newtown Turnpike, too.  I wonder if they’ll use it on Beachside Avenue.  LOL

Posted by Michael Stuttman on September 28, 2008 at 11:35 PM | #

I live off of Hillandale and travel it many times a day. I also thought it was being prepared for resurfacing until I realized no one was coming back to do any more work! So I called the public works dept. and spoke to John (don’t remember his last name) who’s decision it was to resurface the road this way. He contends it’s as good as any other type of road and it’s not inferior. Of course I disagreed and told him how I can’t drive down it without rocks kicking up onto my car, how my son can’t ride his bike on it any longer, etc. He also said he has a limited budget and the price of asphalt has gone up nearly 3 fold; I don’t doubt that.

I guess the up shot is, it will force people to drive slower and also many people will avoid the road if given a choice, thereby lessen through traffic.

Now if I could only get people to realize Hillandale and West Parish is not a four way stop.

Posted by John Raho on September 29, 2008 at 12:08 AM | #

So that’s what that awful stuff on Woodside Avenue is.  I also thought it was a preparation for repaving. It’ll be interesting to see how it holds up when the snow plows clear the roads.
Janet Beasley

Posted by Janet Beasley on September 29, 2008 at 12:56 AM | #

I live in the area of Church Street and Iris Lane and only learned today from my neighbor that the recent paving is completed. These roads are not “less traveled” as the school bus route for the last 25 years has run along Hillandale Road and Church Street for the elementary, middle and high school.
In addition, Greens Farms Nursery School operates every day from morning to mid afternoon which produces a regular flow of traffic in the area.

Granted, Iris Lane is a cul de sac and yet, the road has its share of FedEx trucks, UPS, USPostal deliveries, landscapers, commuters and car pooling parents.
It appears that Public Works has its own criteria for selecting roads for this dubious honor. Unfortunately our area falls on the “have nots’ list yet we pay taxes for town services just the same as those on the “haves” list who are provided fully paved roads.

MaryAnn Meyer

Posted by MaryAnn Meyer on September 29, 2008 at 01:20 AM | #

I just figured it was still being resurfaced until I saw the yellow centerline stripes. Then I thought: “Somebody’s gonna be in a jam for painting before the road is finished.” Duh.
Go figure…GO RTM !!!

Posted by Tom Feeley on September 29, 2008 at 01:22 AM | #

Add me to the long list of “I thought it wasn’t finished yet,” on Newtown Turnpike. This has to be wearing the heck out of our tires.

Posted by Stacy Prince on September 29, 2008 at 03:06 AM | #

I would be happy to sign this petition! This new road surface is noisy, uneven and messy. It is ironic that in a town where we pride ourselves on environmental awareness, and where many people have started walking and biking instead of driving, this new paving system makes both biking and walking unpleasant, if not impossible.

As for saving money, the new pavement is already being undercut by rainwater along the sides of the roads and beginning to cave in in places where there had been potholes and cracks. This paving system did nothing to address the longstanding structural problems on these roads.

Posted by Jean Robbett on September 29, 2008 at 03:04 PM | #

Lots of negative comments on this procedure. Would Westport residents be willing to pay higher taxes in order to pay for the increased costs of using asphalt?

Posted by Luisa Francoeur on September 29, 2008 at 03:50 PM | #

As a local contractor I can attest to the ridiculous increase in the cost of asphalt. Even as the cost of oil has gone down the price of asphalt in Fairfield county goes up. This is because O&G;are allowed a monopoly. Here we pay $100/ton in Meriden the current price is $71/ton. Our selectman and representatives should look into the deal that has been handed this businees and address the lack of competition. At a resonable competitve price for material we would be able to properly pave town roads.

Posted by Michele Knapp on October 01, 2008 at 09:11 PM | #

I just drove down that section of those roads to see what they were like and was shocked at how poor they were.  As a Realtor in town, am I to tell people who are thinking of moving to Westport that our DPW is cutting corners on road paving because they cant be bothered with finding a better solution to rising material costs? I think its shameful to leave residents of those neighborhoods having to deal with road conditions such as that.  Id also like to know how the town deems a street ‘less traveled’ then others. We all take alot of pride in our community and that sometimes requires making an extra effort to make sure it’s always at its best!  Where do I sign?

Posted by Billy Nistico on October 07, 2008 at 09:07 PM | #