Tacoma Streets Initiative reports progress but hits bump in the road

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City of Tacoma’s Public Works Street Operations is reporting progress on repairing the city’s streets, now launching into the third year of the 10-year Tacoma Streets Initiative funded by a combination of voter-approved tax increases in 2015, set to expire in 10 years, and grants and matching city funds, raising a total of $325 million.

“The public works department is on target to meet its commitment of maintaining 70 percent (approximately 5,600 residential blocks) of the residential street network through the life of the initiative,” said Rae Bailey, public works street operations division manager.
But progress is not always perfect. A resident in January notified the Tacoma Weekly about recently resurfaced streets crumbling to gravel. Bailey identified Claremont Drive as one street with a problem.

“Unfortunately, this section of Claremont Drive is experiencing excessive rock loss due to an equipment issue experienced with the oiler truck during construction,” Bailey said. “The oiler truck did not apply the proper rate of oil to the street surface prior to spreading the chip rock.”

Bailey said Street Operations is committed to repairing the section of Claremont Drive this summer. In the meantime, Bailey said the street will continue to experience excessive rock loss.

“Street Operations will continue to send a street sweeper through this area to remove the loose chip rock,” Bailey said.

Bailey said Street Operations has also identified slightly more rock loss at the centerline of the street than what is normally expected.

“They believe this is occurring because they overlapped the chip seal at the centerline of the street by six inches, which provided two layers of chip seal,” she explained. “The six-inch overlap did not adhere to the first layer of chip seal as expected. The first layer of chip seal however is adhering very well to the original asphalt and is performing as expected. Street Operations has changed their chip seal procedures at the centerline and will no longer lap the joint.”

One other location that Street Operations has identified with the same problem is in a cul-de-sac in northeast Tacoma at 5432 52nd Avenue N.E. The work at that location was done in summer 2016. The problem was brought to the attention of the City in winter 2017. Bailey said this location will be repaired this summer.

“We are also experiencing heavier than normal rock loss at the intersection of North Pearl and North 26th and Narrows Drive,” Bailey said. “We believe this is being caused by the turning motion of heavy truck and bus traffic onto the chip seal. This will be repaired this summer.”

Installation of chip seal is weather dependent. Bailey said the pavement must be completely dry and hot oil cannot be placed when the air temperature is below 60 degrees. Street Operations also wants the pavement temperature to be at least 80 degrees before applying oil. Therefore, any repairs must wait until the summer months when average daily temperatures are warmer.

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