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Summer repairs planned

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Maintenance work will be performed on almost 100 miles of county-owned roads this summer to repair damage left behind by an exceptionally harsh winter.

Almost 22 miles of those roads will receive new blacktop in the 2014 overlay program approved Monday by the Bartholomew County Commissioners.

That’s twice as much as last summer, when 11.5 miles of roadway were repaired, county highway engineer Danny Hollander said.

The remaining 77 miles of county road repairs will be done this year through the less expensive chip-and-seal method, which blends asphalt with gravel, he said.

While the expense varies with road width, it costs taxpayers about $16,600 to chip and seal one mile of road, compared with $63,800 for new blacktop.

However, chip-and-seal treatments provide no structural strength, do not repair all cracks, deteriorate faster, become more slippery in the rain and make more noise when driven upon, according to the National Transportation Research Board.

Dave O’Mara of North Vernon and Milestone Construction of Columbus were selected to do the work. Their combined bid of $1,273,726 was almost $173,000 below engineer estimates, Hollander said.

There are 60 sections of county roads on this year’s chip-and-seal program that are spread throughout the county, Hollander said.

Some residents have complained in the past that loose gravel from chip-and-seal treatments have caused cracked windshields, loss-of-control crashes and foreign material clogging drainage areas, Hollander said. Others have said blotches of the asphalt-gravel mixture end up on the body of their vehicles, damaging the paint, he said.

Decisions concerning which county roads get a new blacktop, a chip-and-seal treatment, patch repairs or no repairs largely rests with Bartholomew County Highway Superintendent Dwight Smith.

After driving all 700-plus miles of county roads in late March and early April, Smith said he intended to give roads that fared the worst over the winter the most attention during this summer’s overlay program.

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