Loxahatchee Groves Public Works Director Larry Peters made a presentation Tuesday, Jan. 5 to the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council regarding a proposed new method to repair OGEM roads using a chip seal process.
Peters said he has been working with several contractors to come up with a means to improve degraded roads that were paved with open-graded emulsified mix (OGEM) years ago and found a contractor who could repair the roads using chip seal process.
“I’ve walked the roads with this gentleman, and he’s given us a proposal,” Peters said. “He has a contract with Lee County to provide these exact same items, and he’s here to give a presentation.”
Peters explained that the company had offered to do all 12 miles of OGEM roads at once or in four-mile segments over three years.
Kris Shane with Asphalt Paving Systems said his company does all types of paving and believes that he and Peters had come up with a permanent solution to fix the town’s OGEM roads.
Shane said the process is in two steps, beginning with a six-inch to eight-inch soil and cement subsurface, over which the chip seal surface is applied. The soil and cement base is solid and resistant to damage caused from standing water.
“Chip seal is one of the oldest forms of paving,” he said. “It has been around since the 1890s. It’s still widely used all over the United States and the State of Florida. It’s a cheaper alternative to paving, and it still gives you the rural feel. It’s not a paved road, and it’s also not a dirt road.”
Shane pointed out that a chip seal road keeps dust down and does not require grading.
The chip seal surface treatment consists of a thick layer of polymer asphalt emulsion that is immediately covered with a granite aggregate, he said, adding that the procedure can be done with minimal traffic closures.
“We repeat that step twice… and the total thickness is about one-half inch thick,” Shane said. “This creates a tightly knit riding surface that lasts anywhere from 10 to 12 years.”
At the end of the life expectancy, the road can be either re-chip sealed or paved with asphalt.
“It really sets the town up for being able to do a lot of different options,” Shane said, adding that chip seal is 50 to 60 percent less costly than asphalt paving.
Mayor Lise El-Ramey asked if speed bumps would be replaced during the process, and Shane said they could leave existing speed bumps in place or replace them at a cost of about $6,000 each.
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia asked how the surfaces were for a shoed horse, and El-Ramey said she had seen chip seal and thought it would be “grippier” than asphalt.
Councilman Robert Shorr said he had also seen chip seal roads and felt they would be great for rural roads.
“Unfortunately, we are right in the middle of a bunch of cities with a lot of traffic coming through, and I don’t think it would last in most of our areas,” Shorr said.
Shane said the cement and soil base would hold up “forever,” but the surface would need to be redone after time.
The total cost estimate for the entire 12 miles of OGEM roads with chip seal submitted by Asphalt Paving Systems was almost $1.5 million.
El-Ramey said the chip seal method might be appropriate for some segments of the town.
“I still think we need to move forward with a scope of work sooner rather than later,” she said. “Perhaps some of these cooperative agreements can get us there faster… at a price that is a considerable savings for the town.”