2011-02-26 / Editorials & Letters

New streets start crumbling!

It’s been about six months since we first raised our concerns about the quality of Buckeye Lake Village’s $756,000 street repaving project. Our concerns arose when we saw that Chemcote, the village’s contractor, wasn’t applying a bond or tack coat to the existing surface nor cleaning the roadway in front of the paver. Both steps were specified in the contract and represent industry best practices. They are critical steps to get the new asphalt to stick to the existing surface.

We first raised our concerns privately with Mayor Rick Baker who agreed, calling them a “no brainer.” Work slowed or stopped for a few days after that, but soon resumed with few changes. Our fears about overall project quality increased when we witnessed Chemcote continually ignoring these critical contract specifications in front of M•E Companies’ inspector. Buckeye Lake was charged $70 an hour for those “look the other way” inspection services. The total bill for this “blind” inspection was $18,520.

We wondered what else M•E was letting slide on this project. We got an answer in October, when the project manager signed off on a change order that shortchanged Buckeye Lake 26 percent or $5,816.40 on a credit for work not done. Several requests for an explanation directed to both Buckeye Lake and M•E have been ignored. An apparent “discount” price for the tack coat credit cost the village another $2,016. A failure to collect the late completion penalty was a $1,500 gift to Chemcote.

That $9,332 is “chump change” compared to the $83,000 paid to M•E for this debacle and the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted as our streets prematurely break up.

That’s already happening on Cranberry Lane. Six weeks ago it took a sharp eye to see the cracks forming along the edges and at the corners. Now even M•E’s “blind” inspector could see the pieces of new asphalt breaking off the edges of the roadway and several large holes forming in the middle of the street. And it is just getting started as we are now entering the prime freeze and thaw season.

We have questioned several times Chemcote’s claim and M•E’s certification that EXACTLY 77,060 square yards as specified in the contract received a twoinch layer of asphalt. Thanks to the breakup on Cranberry Lane, we can now measure the thickness of the new asphalt layer. We checked the thickness in more than a dozen locations along the edge and in the center. Those measurements came up short with most pieces measuring an inch thick. Some were about one and a quarter inch thick. You can’t compact two inches of asphalt into one inch. Asphalt concrete is basically stone in a range of sizes bound together by asphalt. Compaction compresses the stones closer together, reducing the thickness a quarter to maybe a half inch. It is clear that two inches of asphalt was not uniformly applied to Cranberry Lane. There is no reason to believe that the rest of the streets are any different.

This is big money, even bigger than the $83,000 paid to M•E. Buckeye Lake paid $577,950 for two inches of asphalt on 77,060 square yards. Let’s say the specified two inches turns out to be more like 1.5 inches which correlates with our 1.0 to 1.25 inch measurements. That is a 25 percent shortfall in asphalt worth $144,489. But Buckeye Lake’s loss will be far more than that prospective $144,489. Thinner asphalt, plus the absence of the bond coat and failure to clean road surfaces properly, means our streets will fail earlier, making our losses much higher due to premature failure. The real value of our investment in repaved streets could be cut 50 percent or more.

We take no joy in being proven right so soon. However, it is fitting that Mayor Rick Baker, M•E head cheerleader and Council President Charlene Hayden and Get Along Gang member Jeryne Peterson have front row seats for this disaster. All three travel Cranberry Lane daily and will witness its gradual breakup.

It’s not too late to aggressively seek restitution from both Chemcote and M•E. The evidence has been there since August and more smoke is coming out of the gun everyday. It is time for council members to put aside new Christmas street lights and for Baker to drop his 4th of July Festival to address our crumbling resurfaced streets.

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