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'Bleeding' roads vex county crews

Jun, 29 2004

'Bleeding' roads vex county crews (Marietta, OH) Residents who regularly drive Washington County's rural roads are noticing that oil, water and humidity definitely do not mix. And when they occur at the same time a sticky, gooey mess results. The Washington County Highway Department is reporting a serious problem this summer with roads "bleeding," the term used to describe pavement that turns messy. The department wants the public to know the problem is not being ignored, and workers are attempting to address the most serious areas. "We know that the roads get sticky and are a big nuisance," said Calvin Becker, county highway superintendent. "We just don't know how to keep the oil down. We're out of ideas." Becker has been with the department 20 years, nine years as highway superintendent, and has battled his fair share of bleeding roads. The difference this year is that the problem is surfacing early in the summer with plenty more hot weather to come. Becker is still searching for a permanent, but always illusive, solution. Two of the most serious places are on Stanleyville Road and Pleasant Ridge Road, off Ohio 26. The highway department deals with complaints about the problem roads as they come in. The county is taking complaints from citizens and then spreading an aggregate stone material to cover the problem roadways. The roads will be monitored and crews will be dispatched to areas as needed. Friday there were four county trucks on the roads affected, checking trouble spots and spreading more stone. "Some roads are not as juicy as others," Becker said. "A high concentration of traffic tends to pull the oil up." "Bleeding" asphalt doesn't happen on paved roads, only on "chip and seal" roads. The county has a total of 341 miles of roadway to take care of, with about 25 percent prone to bleeding. The problem of bleeding is caused by a combination of high temperatures and moisture under the pavement. Oil comes to the surface. The black oil is then tracked onto vehicles, driveways and eventually into people's homes. This phenomenon occurs regardless of whether limestone, black cinders, or sand is used. Bob West, a trustee in Salem Township 14 years, said he actually appreciates the chip and seal roads, even in summer months. Anything is better than mud, he said. "I'll take chip and seal over old gravel or mud up to the axle," West said. "When I was growing up we didn't even have to touch the steering wheel. We just put the tire in the rut in the road and went." Township roads with chip and seal surfaces have the same problems as county roads when temperatures soar. "Our roads stay pretty good, but we've got more gravel. We can't afford the chip and seal, but we do have little strips of it," West said. "The county does a pretty good job for all they've got to do." The solution is one more load of stone. When aggregate is loose, drivers should use caution and slow down. "Oil floats," Becker said. "It's no problem in winter months, of course. We're getting a few calls about it now because most people don't like it. We don't like it either, but we can't pave all 341 miles." Road hotline: To report a bleeding road pavement problem: 373-2505 (before 3:30 p.m.) or 376-7430. By Connie Cartmell,

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