Just like wheat harvest and high temperatures, the Barton County Road and Bridge Departments annual ritual of working on county blacktops is a rite of spring.
Starting this time of year, crews tackle overlaying and sealing a portion of the county’s nearly 400 miles of paved blacktops. This year’s campaign has been underway for a short time already.
The focus for 2018 is the southeast and south central parts of the county, County Works Director Darren Williams said. In general, this will included roads south of U.S. 56 from the Rice County line west to the Radium Road (SW 50 Avenue) and south to the Stafford County line.
Williams said they will sand-seal 95 miles and 35 miles will receive a brand-new asphalt overlay.
The roads will remain open during most of the work, but motorists could see some traffic delays.
The work starts with the overlay, said Williams. Crews can lay up to two miles per day, but this depends on the weather as cooler temperatures and rain hinder the effort. The overlaying will take through mid August.
Next, the sand sealing will begin, starting with the hand patching of pot holes and cracks. A layer of hot oil is then sprayed onto the roads, followed by a layer of sand/gravel (this includes the miles that were overlaid) then this mixture is rolled.
The final step for the county is to “broom” the newly sealed roads, Williams said. Big, rolling brooms are used to sweep away any excess gravel.
The sealing work will extend into the fall. After that, the county will contract with a firm to come in and paint striping on the roads.
This is a costly venture, Williams said. The overlay costs between $45,000 and $50,000 per mile, and the sand-seal costs about $9,500 per mile. In all 25,000 tons of cold-mix asphalt and oil will be used.
The number of miles being done this year is about average, he said. The fluctuation of crude oil prices impacts the cost of the oil used for roads which influences how many miles can be covered, and this year, the prices have been relatively low.