The 2016 campaign to sand and chip seal blacktop roads in Barton County is underway, Road and Bridge Department Director Dale Phillips told the County Commission Monday morning.
Over the next three and a half weeks or so, Road and Bridge crews and personnel from other departments will engage is this massive undertaking. The goal is to cover 107 miles of the county’s nearly 400 miles of blacktops, primarily in the north central and northwest part of the county.
“I’ve made the comment that its like a big dance that goes on,” Phillips said. “It takes all the staff.”
So far this year, the cost of asphalt overlay is $1,853.923.00. It is estimated that the sand/rock sealing in 2016 will total $1,155,000.
There is no way around it, he said, it is an expensive proposition. But, the alternative is much more costly.
“The roads were built many years ago and have stood the test of time,” he said. The key to the longevity is the routine maintenance.
“You have to make a commitment to the roadways,” Phillips said.
In order to preserve them, the Road and Bridge Department patches areas throughout the year and sand seals a pre-determined number of miles each summer. These are done on about a five-year rotating basis.
In 2015 the Department sealed 75 miles. The difference in the number of miles tackled is based on the cost of the oil which is essential to the work, and the cost of that oil has dropped so more can be done.
Phillips said they had fallen a little behind their schedule due to high oil prices. Now, they are getting back on track.
Preparations for the project started early this summer. That is when crews started patching the roads and other preparatory work.
Factoring in materials, labor and painting, it costs $15,000 per mile for the undertaking. That price varies from year to year depending on the price of oil and rock, Phillips said.
With the exception of the chip rock, materials used in the work come from local sources, Phillips said. But, even the rock comes from a Kansas quarry.
This takes a lot of planning. Phillips said they want their supplies on the ground at least a year in advance, meaning orders are often placed two years ahead of time.
The annual campaign also takes a lot of manpower. From flagging to brooming to spreading oil and sand to rolling to smooth the asphalt, dozens of county employees are involved, Phillips said, adding sometimes workers form other departments step in to help.
“It takes everybody to work together for this operation,” he said.
When approaching work areas, drivers should slow down and use caution around construction vehicles and personnel, Phillips said. Fresh oil and loose gravel can be dangerous for motorists.
Each mile will be closed to traffic while the work is being done. But, crews can cover six miles in one day. “We encourage everyone to have a little patience out there,” he said.
After the roads are done, the county contracts with an outside company to paint the center and edge lines. This costs about $90,000.
When it comes to paved roads, Phillips said Barton County has the third highest number of the 105 counties in Kansas.