Dodging potholes, bumping across a road that is as grooved as a washboard, and watching the cloud of dust in your rear view mirror is the road traveled by many rural Ohio residents. Fast forward 5 days to that same road as a solid, smooth chip and seal surface. Beware of the caution signs on this thoroughfare to success, as there are months of preparation before the actual surfacing project. Hop in and ride with me as we journey through this process.
One of the main reasons road surfaces become so challenging to drive is not the surface itself, but the lack of a solid base beneath the surface. We stop to find our county engineer and township trustees converging to develop a plan. A road rehabilitation method known as full depth reclamation offers an option to improve road conditions. To be successful, this process requires significant funding to complete. With three townships and the county working cooperatively, an application is submitted to the Ohio Public Works Commission for grant and loan assistance.
Using this funding source and local matching funds the project begins with preparations that include ditching and installation of new, and replacement of damaged, culverts. This is done because proper drainage is essential to road maintenance. While this work could be completed by local road crews, the full-depth reclamation work requires a contractor who specializes in the process. First, test holes are made to determine the type of soil under the road. This informs the correct cement-to-road material ratio. A road reclaim machine pulverizes the road base and some sub-base and combines them. The road is then graded back to normal terrain. More soil tests are done and a dry cement is then distributed over and incorporated into the pulverized material including a water additive. The stabilized material is compacted with rollers providing a solid base. After all of these steps are complete, then the asphalt and limestone aggregate chip and seal surface is applied.
Providing a road map for this road improvement project was Ohio State University Extension, Washington County Community Development. Extension engaged the community via coordination of meetings, assisting with application paperwork, and supporting township officials with critically important project information. Projects of all types can experience unexpected bumps and curves. Remember to contact your local Extension office to help you travel your road to success!
Darlene Lukshin is a Community Development program specialist in Washington County.