Saturday, August 25, 2007

More on the bike path: penny wise and pound foolish?

Mike Musick heard this same rumor about the bike path on Thursday night, and Friday he went and spoke with the DOT Parks Highway Rehabilitation Project manager, who confirmed that yes, it was true, they've changed the specifications to eliminate the requirement for D-1 gravel on the bike path, for economic reasons. The $70,000 figure is correct. The D-1 gravel used already on the main road has exceeded the design requirements for the whole project. (Mike also called the DOT director for the Fairbanks area, who also confirmed that the design change was authorized.)

Neither of the engineers Mike spoke with seemed to think that this change would cause the bike path to prematurely break up or fail, but I'm not too confident of DOT engineering judgement when it comes to road surfacing, given the recent example of Ester Dome Road's disastrous paving, which became almost impassable after a single spring.

However, the Dome Road is different terrain (hill rather than black spruce bog, tailings, and white spruce forest) and was paved with chip seal. Still, this makes me very leery, and I'm left with some questions: why did all the D-1 gravel get used up? did the specs not provide for enough for the project to be done right? did Exclusive Paving (the company that got the paving bid) not allocate the gravel appropriately when deciding where to put it? How long is the paving expected to last with borrow vs. D-1 under it? What is considered "premature"? Shouldn't they have let the community know about a change like this? Was it posted anywhere? Feedback requested?

We apparently have very, very little time to find out the answers to these or other questions and to call for a change if it turns out that DOT's not made a good decision. Paving is proceeding on the road, and will start very soon on the path. Once it's done there, it'll be too late to change anything. So I intend to call Monday early.

1 comment:

Simiolus Rex said...

Wasn't Penny-wise the evil clown in Steven King's "It?" har har har...hello Georgie!!!