Archive for Monday, August 31, 2009

After city fills in cracks, road markings become patchy

August 31, 2009


Crews this summer poured a sealer in the cracks of pavement all over town. As this fix in the 800 block of Kasold Drive shows, the sealant sometimes interferes with lane striping and other pavement markings that help drivers keep their bearings.

Crews this summer poured a sealer in the cracks of pavement all over town. As this fix in the 800 block of Kasold Drive shows, the sealant sometimes interferes with lane striping and other pavement markings that help drivers keep their bearings.

Calling on cracks

Drivers worried that lane markings are too faded, chipped or obscured are encouraged to report the specific locations to the city’s Department of Public Works, at 832-3123.

“The public’s out everywhere, every day,” said Mark Thiel, assistant director of public works. “If they see something and are willing to call it in, that’s great. It’s extra eyes out there for us.”

Thiel said that employees would check out each report and determine whether repainting would be necessary.

Mark Thiel knew it was coming, but even he found himself a little bit surprised once contract crews finished sealing cracks on the major North Second-North Third Street corridor in North Lawrence.

The liquid asphalt goop, now hardened, had obscured virtually all of the lines that normally help drivers find their way.

“When we crack-sealed it, we covered up all the lane markings,” said Thiel, the city’s assistant director of public works. “It was pretty bad. When it was done, I’m guessing 70 percent of the lane lines were gone.”

The obfuscation — remedied within a week, by hiring a painting crew for $2,000 — is one of the unintended consequences of working to extend the lives of the city’s aging streets.

During each of the past two years, the city has hired contractors to fill cracks on 100 lane miles of municipal roadways. This past summer’s work included pourings in North Lawrence and along North Iowa Street, West Sixth Street and other stretches that in past years might have been repaved.

While traditional repaving projects always include money to replace the solid yellow lines, crosswalks and large turn arrows that get removed or covered up, crack-sealing work is different.

The process is more subtle: Liquid pavement is used to fill and seal cracks, typically less than an inch wide. Cracks regularly form along seams in the pavement, and often those seams are located away from lane markings.

But that’s not always the case.

On North Second-North Third, the road surface’s seams run right along the double-yellow line separating traffic heading north and south. Other markings also fell along seams.

As cracks formed, contractors had no choice but to pour their jet-black goop into the crevices. Such fluid regularly spilled over to form a better seal, but also covered up even more of what was left of the traffic-directing markings.

The $200,000 the city was spending on the crack-sealing work citywide didn’t include a reserve for repainting the markings, so Thiel’s department made special arrangements to get painting contractors out on the street within a week.

“We didn’t restripe all of North Second and North Third — just the portion of it where it caused a problem,” Thiel said.

His department evaluates all roads where cracks have been sealed, to see whether lane markings remain effective.

So far, he said, his employees hadn’t located any other trouble spots.

“We feel like the lane markings that are there are sufficient and provide a safe travelway for the public,” Thiel said.

David Woosley, the city’s traffic/transportation engineer, said his division typically spent $4,000 a year to tackle problems associated with lane markings. The money is left over from his budget to repaint crosswalks and other markings on city streets.

Woosley isn’t sure how much money will be available this year to repaint areas that have become less visible — either through crack-sealing, fading or chipping.

He just knows that as the city works to extend the lives of its streets, pavement will be expected to last longer before being replaced. And that means lane markings will remain to endure more traffic, more snowplows, more sun and more of other factors that can diminish their visibility.

“The markings wear out,” he said. “We’ll certainly try to do some (this year), but I doubt we’ll have enough money to do everything in town that needs to be done. … You just have to prioritize.”


ukillaJJ 8 years, 8 months ago

Ridiculous! Lawrence's roads are on par with that of bombed-out cities. How hard is it to paint decent lines after crack sealing? The cost of safety (esp. for visitors to the town) far outweighs the cost of a $4k paint crew.

LogicMan 8 years, 8 months ago

I haven't seen a single painting crew working on the streets this year. But I have noticed the poor condition of the markings around town. Especially during the night or a rain. And on rainy nights, it's downright dangerous in some places.

I hope they can find the funds to make a big effort before the weather gets really ugly.

monkeyhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

It is pathetic and sad that this most basic function of city government cannot even get done right. How hard is it to figure out beforehand that the markings would be obliterated? Do these guys even go look at the streets that are being repaired?

Wasn't there a sales tax passed to take care of the streets, or is this money being diverted to bicycle paths and other irrelevant junk? There was plenty of funding to mark bike lanes, but none for the streets?

Boeing 8 years, 8 months ago

Gilchrist, last year I blew out a tire in a pothole the size of a Yugo on Kasold, and lines are missing all over the place out here. Get over it, the whole city is a pit when it comes to roads. I drove on rural African roads that were better than some in this town...

MoscowCalls 8 years, 8 months ago

You know what Lawrence really needs to do? FIX POTHOLES. At least with the markings that "obscure" the lines on the road, one can at least gather where the lines are, and that the big, long, black tar strip is what separates the lane.

BigPrune 8 years, 8 months ago

Why do my tires lose their grip so bad when I drive over crack sealed streets, because I'm driving on rubber? Iowa just north of 15th is the worst. Isn't the City going to finish the job and micro surface the roads? I also thought the sales tax increase was going to repair the roads and potholes. Has local consumer spending increased or declined?

gsxr600 8 years, 8 months ago

I don't know where to start. City streets in my opinion reflect a lot on a city. Oily slurry goop is not the answer. It looks terrible and serves no good. Last summer, a crew did this stuff on my friends street. I pull up to go pick her up and as I began to drive away, it sounded like my tire blew. Guess what? This super stuff lifted off the pavement and wrapped around my mud guards, tires, and wheel well. Awesome. Never could get that stuff fully off. This road work looks like Sh!t and provides a lot less safety on the roads. Their work is sub par. Of course I have full faith the city will listen and start providing ADEQUATE road maintenance since there was a tax increase for that, right? HA

slowplay 8 years, 8 months ago

LOL....You whine about taxes and then whine about services. I've lived and visited so many other areas where the conditions are far worse than Lawrence. If you don't like it here, GTFOOT.

loloen 8 years, 8 months ago

What's really stupid is they didn't bother to fix N. 3rd before the detour. Now you have semis and large vehicles going down a street that was already in disrepair, tearing up the road further. It's nicer to drive on train tracks than on N. 3rd!

Idiots. But hey, we're N. Lawrence. No one gives a @%^&.

Orwell 8 years, 8 months ago

Last year I sat in my "pastel west-side mansion" (ha!) a couple of blocks east of Wakarusa and watched as the city's contractors tried injecting patching material into a single street crack/crevasse until they started to run out of goop and gave up. Thanks to those wonderful "traffic calming devices" the edges of much of the pavement crumbles repeatedly, and we drive around "The Potholes That Refused To Die" pretty much all year.

Getting into an unresolvable argument about which part of town has it worst will only detract from addressing a citywide problem – as will whining about giving the city enough resources to fix it.

Mike Wagner 8 years, 8 months ago

If you think you lose traction in your car/truck you should try driving on this stuff on a motorcycle! Im really surprised it didnt get somebody killed yet!!! They still have Not repaired Iowa street after they blew half of the asphalt off of the road with air in attempt to clean out the crack before they sealed them. SOMEBODY that probably makes too much money for what they do should have been able to look at the roads and determine the roads were way past smearing tar on it. Im not even going to get started on the pot holes. I would just like to see people be held accountable for bad decisions in this town...

bsnbabe 8 years, 8 months ago

I have a question for everyone. It seems that everyone is upset about the road conditions (as am I). Does anyone have suggestions on who to talk to or write to complain about this situation? If we got everyone who complained online to also write an email or letter to those responsible it would at least be something active we could do to try and remedy the situation. Any suggestions on who to write?

miztownie 8 years, 8 months ago

It's sad to see how many people in our city feel it is divided. A simple issue like covered up markings, which were fixed ASAP, has brought out the underlying issues of residents divided. I have lived in Lawrence my whole, but young, life. I have never lived North of the river, and to be honest, I don't frequently visit that area either. In the same breath, however, I don't frequently see the Northwest area either. For these reasons, I do not know about road issues or other needs in certain areas. I hope that people can understand that unless they are making an honest effort to have their wants heard, people cannot be expected to understand. It is not so much that others don't care about North Lawrence, it might just be that it's out of sight and out of mind. Please give us South siders a break! Pick your battles with the government workers --individuals-- who are not responding as they should, rather than making blanket statements. Thanks!

gsxr600 8 years, 8 months ago

BigMike, this is one reason besides others for why I sold my bike. Trying to make a turn on this stuff safely was a nightmare. I think bikers have enough to worry about as it is.

jenng 8 years, 8 months ago

The roads in town look horrible and, as the Journal-World has reported before, are only fixed for the short term. I still can't get over how bad Downtown now looks from last year's roadwork. The parking spots are a different color than the street and the cheap brick crosswalks are already wearing away. I can go on and on about how rundown Downtown has recently become (filthy sidewalks, business owners being too cheap to put ashtrays outside their doors).

If Downtown can't be up-kept, what hope is their for North Lawrence?

BrianR 8 years, 8 months ago

bigmike (Anonymous) says… "If you think you lose traction in your car/truck you should try driving on this stuff on a motorcycle!"

I'm glad you brought this up, I was thinking about this as I read the article.

I know where all of the patches are on my usual routes so I know how I have to ride on them but I have to say, City of Lawrence, if I spill on one of these things, there will be lawyers.

Art 8 years, 8 months ago

I second Big Mike's comments. The black stuff is scary enough on a motorcycle when it's hot and slimy; some places you hardly get a grip on decent pavement all the way through tight turns in crowded intersections. And it's even more slippery when it's wet.

Some of the white rubber striping, especially the wide bands that outline crosswalks, are also like ice when wet. I've noticed the newest striping (installed in the last couple of weeks) has a diamond texture in it; that should help.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 8 months ago

“When we crack-sealed it, we covered up all the lane markings,” said Thiel, the city’s assistant director of public works. “It was pretty bad. When it was

--- ... and in other news: City officials were entirely shocked that when it rains, water actually flows into storm sewers! other city officials reported deep befuddlement at the discovery of human feces at the wastewater treatment plant. * and, an official in charge of the Lawrence International Airport pronounced himself stunned and amazed when somebody actually landed at the airport and expected to use their hanger!


Hey Rodge-G, when you darned near broke your shoulder hitting that killer pothole, was that one of the bike rides you and Donnie take fully soused to see if you could do it? if so, I dunno what you were complaining about. all the E85 anesthesia probably prevented a lot of pain!

BSNBabe, my suggestion is to e-mail the city commissioners, some of them do actually read and respond to their e-mails.
don't expect a reply from MikeA though.

it indeed was quite silly to have the detour on north 3rd without some prep of that poor little street.

I still say we need to open one or more concession stands, one at 3rd and Locust, one before the turn at 3rd and Elm.

besides hot dogs and maps, we could sell hemorrhoid cream because of the rough streets, too?

ljwreader33 8 years, 8 months ago

There are so many tar lines from the so-called repair on North 2nd Street, it's downright dizzying driving through there. Repainting the lines won't help this distraction. I would say if there are so many cracks in the asphalt that there will be more tar than asphalt remaining, it's time to repave!

ljwreader33 8 years, 8 months ago

By the way, interesting that LJW posts a photo of one or two repair lines going through Kasold when the article is written about North 2nd and 3rd Streets. Not a fair representation. You should see the mass of goo on those streets in North Lawrence!

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