Better results with less disruption and a much more attractive appearance will be the main benefits from a new approach to road surface maintenance that will start this summer.
"This will be a major change from what our property owners have seen for the last 40 years," says Mitchell Barker, Wintergreen Property Owners Association’s director of infrastructure and roads. “No more patchwork roads.”
From now on out, having the entire street surface treated will be the standard at Wintergreen. The long tradition of putting a patchwork of tar and gravel on every street during the summer is no more.
"If all goes according to plan, the new surface should last for four years or more before we have to come back and resurface," Barker says, adding that all of Wintergreen’s roads get serious stress because of WPOA's aggressive snowplowing.
The work will be done by Adams Construction, a roads contractor whose primary customer is the state. The work will start in August. On the mountain, the new surface will go down starting on the roads lower on the mountain, moving up towards Black Rock and then Devils Knob and Laurel Springs. In the valley, work will start on the northern end of Stoney Creek (Rodes Valley Drive, Crawford's Climb, etc.) and work south across the community. The work is being broken up into phases with a goal of having all of the roads done in three years.
The appearance of the streets will be "a much more uniform look and surface condition," says Barker. The roads will not be smooth asphalt, but Barker says he is expecting much less loose gravel than is now on most neighborhood roads.
It's not cheap. Barker could not share exact costs due to using competitive contracts, but he said the average cost could be over $25,000 per mile of road.
The new process, called "prime and double seal," follows proven Virginia Department of Transportation specifications. It typically takes two days.
Barker explains that the surface is first cleaned with a "power broom," then carefully sprayed with an asphalt emulsion (a tar-like material) at an “exact application rate.” A fine layer of aggregate-gravel is put down almost at the same time, then this surface is rolled to embed the aggregate into the asphalt emulsion.
"Then they wait a day, and go back to the road to repeat the process of spraying the asphalt emulsion and aggregate," says Barker. The last step is sweeping off of any excess aggregate.
When asked if all of this would see a direct savings in the WPOA budget, Barker says maybe, but that the primary goal is to improve the condition and appearance of the roads.
Long term, some cost savings is a possibility. "For years we have marked 52 miles of roads for patchwork, by hand. It takes two techs month of Sundays. The patching dealt with problem areas, but added very little to the overall road base," Barker offers. "There is no doubt this will eventually provide a better feel driving our streets as well as a better look."