Esmond neighbors upset with alternative new road surface

Esmond neighbors upset with alternative new road surface

Neighbors complained about the brown color, tire marks and uneven curbs created by the micro-surfacing road paving done on Elizabeth and Diana Avenues last week. (Breeze photos by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – Homeowner Chris Rapacioli, of Elizabeth Avenue in Esmond, said he was “absolutely devastated” when he came home last Friday to see the recently resurfaced roads in his neighborhood.

Rapacioli moved to Esmond three years ago, and says he takes pride in keeping his home and neighborhood looking good, just as many of his neighbors do.

When he saw the paving job done in his neighborhood last week, he immediately noticed crumbling and uneven edges and the brown color of the road.

“It looks unfinished,” he said. “The more you look, the more you see.”

In the neighborhood of Esmond, the old storm drains are raised above the sidewalks and streets. In front of his house, Rapacioli noticed a pile of the new tar inside the storm drain entry.

“It’s awful. They just slapped it on. It stinks,” he said.

In front of his home, there is a slight indent for parking before the road turns right and becomes Bertha Street. The tar reaches just past the road’s edge onto the parking space.

Rapacioli kicked at the multi-layered edge and pulled bits of tar and asphalt away.

“I’m skeptical this will last one winter with those plows,” he said.

Department of Public Works Director Gene Allen said this is the first year Smithfield is using a process called micro-surfacing on its roads. He said the process is an internationally used and tested treatment for the preservation and maintenance of roads.

On average, micro-surfacing will extend the life of a road another 10 to 12 years, he said.

Allen said the rough appearance is temporary, and the brown color and tire marks will wear away over time.

Micro-surfacing places two layers of a mixture of emulsifiers, cement, and a slurry of tar to fill, flatten, and seal roads in a layer three-eighths of an inch deep. Allen said the mixture can dry and be open to traffic in as little as an hour.

Depending on conditions, traffic on newly micro-surfaced roads may cause tire marks.

Its brownish color is due to water rising to the surface from the slurry, Allen said, and it will fade over time.

“This is the ugly stage for micro,” he said.

Depending on the condition after that, the road may be micro-surfaced again.

Allen explained the road surface rating system for the town that indicates each road’s condition on a scale of 100, or brand new, to 0, which needs replacement. On average, he said, Smithfield roads are rated 65.64, or in a preventative stage while on the cusp of being in a state of rapid deterioration.

“That’s where you get the phone calls of when are you going to fix my road,” Allen said.

He said there are 48 miles of roadway moving to a lower rating right now.

Elizabeth and Diana Avenues were rated in the mid-60s, putting them in the range for preventative maintenance.

To meet the typical $500,000 annual budget to maintain and repair Smithfield roads, Allen said the town will need to continue to use less expensive preventative measures.

For example, for Smithfield to rebuild each of the roads that have been micro-surfaced with full-depth reclamation, the town would spend $1.2 million more than the $252,000 spent on the alternative.

“Micro is preventing roads from getting into that more expensive category,” Allen said.

“It is making it much more inexpensive, reducing the need to bond to do road reconstruction,” he said.

Despite the explanation, Gary Koss of Diana Avenue said he is still not pleased by the paving. In his opinion, the road will not last the upcoming winter. With the holes and cracks in the surface, he said he believes the roads will have frost heaves and get destroyed by plows immediately.

Upon first sight, the paving on Diana Avenue is flat, even, and appears like fresh black tar. But walking up toward Bertha Street, then down to Elizabeth Avenue, a closer inspection finds there are divots in the surface reaching the original road, tire tracks melted into the tar, and crumbling and uneven edges.

Koss contacted The Valley Breeze & Observer last Friday after days of not having much luck receiving answers from the town.

“I think we’re getting brushed off,” he said.

To Koss, this is another example of how Esmond continues to get neglected while other neighborhoods in Smithfield are well taken care of.

“We’re getting the short end of the stick here. I’m not at all happy with this,” Koss said.

Koss said the micro-surfacing job completed in his neighborhood last week was unprofessional at best and sees it as a brown, patchy eyesore.

“The general appearance isn’t pleasant. This doesn’t conform to what we usually see,” he said.

Chris Rapacioli of Elizabeth Avenue is able to kick aside and remove loose pieces of asphalt where the road meets the front of his house. He said he was “devastated” when he saw the micro-surfacing performed on his street last week.


Usually when micro paving is used, it's followed by a skim coating of regular asphalt Top mix!

I understand the cost savings, but this surface is as bad as you can get, sans a dirt road, if you`re a cyclist.