Mount Vernon Letter: Repave Before Severe Damage

Mount Vernon Letter: Repave Before Severe Damage

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

In the April 21 Gazette, Mr. Spiegel asserted his position being unconvinced that the repaving of his street was essential. While I am not an expert on paving and asphalt and I cannot attest to Mr. Spiegel’s level of expertise, I am totally convinced that it is essential.

The issue of repaving roads is a costly and complicated process. One of which I’m sure that VDOT has studied and consulted many experts about. I doubt that their process for determining which roads need repaving is 100 percent accurate, but I’m sure it is a carefully thought out system.

While to many of us, a road may look fine, there are many aspects to the road and the cost of its repairs that I believe VDOT has taken into account. A key element here is that pavement repair costs increase with the aging of the pavement. If a roadway is allowed to become too damaged, additional costly repairs such as replacement of the substrate or manhole fittings can become necessary, greatly increasing the time and cost to repave a road. Often it pays to replace a road surface before it begins to totally fail.

As asphalt ages, its continued exposure to the elements plays a role in its useful life and precipitation is a major factor in its durability. Precipitation and exposure begin to make asphalt’s hardness increase; this is not a good thing. As the hardness increases, the road surface begins to fail since it has lost its elasticity or ability to bend and flex. It will then begin to show visible cracks and potholes will easily form.

The goal here is to avoid all of this by replacing the road surface before it becomes a problem and a greater expense. Budgeting for annual pavement maintenance and resurfacing is a huge part of any local or state government. When this becomes underfunded and thus the maintenance and replacement projects fall behind, then state and local governments find their budgets underfunded and can never catch up with their road surface needs.

To keep resurfacing budgets manageable and to avoid a financial tidal wave of very poor pavements and financial problems, governments need to provide annual funding adequate to place all of their streets on a resurfacing cycle. Failure to do so will result in the need to eventually borrow or otherwise receive a large amount of funding, e.g. large tax increase, to address all of the community’s poor pavements.

Additionally, there are other critical factors to consider here. Asphalt is an oil refinery by-product and therefore the cost will rise and fall with the price of oil. So, at this time, from a cost perspective it is a good time to be repaving as many roads as possible. Also, the asphalt of today can be potentially different than the asphalt installed 12-15 years ago. New asphalt has been engineered to be more durable and could potentially save us all significant amounts of money. A well-maintained road also results in fewer damages to our personal automobiles as well as all of the other vehicles such as police, fire, rescue, and business vehicles that use those very same roads.

While Mr. Spiegel is probably right that there may be some problems with the contracting process and it may not be 100 percent efficient. I still support the VDOT repaving program and the necessary expenditures to fund the program. In my opinion, this is a very effective use of my tax dollars.

J. Kevin Batchelor

Waynewood Resident