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Contractors wrap up Vashon road resurfacing project

Twenty-six miles of road were resurfaced on Vashon in the last few weeks, and while some loose gravel and unstriped roads remain, county workers said the project went without a hitch.

Five miles of new asphalt were poured, and 21 miles of “chip seal” were laid. Chip seal consists of a layer of asphalt covered with a layer of gravel, which is steamrolled onto the asphalt and left to cure and seal. Chip seal is much less expensive than new asphalt, and was placed on the roads that have less traffic than those that were paved with asphalt.

Some of the chip sealed roads still have loose gravel that hasn’t stuck to the asphalt beneath or been swept off the road. Several have traffic signs urging motorcyclists to use caution.

The loose gravel will be periodically swept off until very little remains, and the roads will be striped later this month, said Paul Moore, a project manager for the King County Roads Services Division.

“Every time they sweep there’s less left,” he said.

The striping of the roads should take less than a week, he said, and the traffic impacts should be less noticeable than the traffic during paving. Striping is weather-dependent, he noted, so it could be delayed until the end of the month if there are many days of rain in September.

The resurfacing was done by two local contractors: Doolittle Construction did the chip seal work for about $990,000, and Watson Asphalt paved the stretches of road that received new asphalt for $950,000, Moore said. The funding for both parts of the project came from the county’s regularly road services budget.

“They anticipate the overlay work, and the year before it happens, they allocate the funds,” said Jim Didricksen, the county’s Vashon-based road services supervisor.

The asphalt roads have an anticipated lifespan of 15 to 20 years; the chip seal should last three to seven years, Moore said.

The contractors’ work was preceded by selective patching work done this spring by county roads crews.

Moore said the project has gone smoothly, and he’s received no complaints about the traffic impacts of the project.

“I was expecting a lot more complaints,” he said. “It’s rare that we get compliments in this line of business, and two came in from neighbors who said, ‘Thanks for doing this.’”

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