By LINDSAY CAREY
A number of complaints regarding the chip seal process for paving the roads in Southington have recently become a topic of discussion among residents and town officials.
At the Town Council meeting on Feb. 10, Southington resident Helen Henne spoke to the Town Council about the negative impacts of chip sealing process particularly on Maplewood Road, Melcon Drive, and Flanders Road.
Although it takes time for the chip seal to adhere to take to the roads, Henne questioned why the chips are still kicking up on the roads and onto the cars when the work was done last summer. She also questioned if the town would be willing to pay for the damages done to residents’ cars from these chip sealed roads.
Henne recommended that the town send the residents of those roads a survey about the chip seal.
Town Councilor Dawn Miceli, who lives in one of the areas that underwent the chip sealing process last year, said that she’s seen more drawbacks to chip seal than good. Miceli said from her research on chip seal, it typically is more effective for small and rural communities with less traveled roads, but Southington is a growing town.
“Many of our neighborhoods are well traveled and it doesn’t seem to be the best method of paving for our streets,” said Miceli.
Similar to Henne’s experience, Miceli said that she expect the asphalt chips to kick up when the roads were initially done in the summer, but finds that the chip are still kicking up on residents’ cars.
“I don’t see that the chip seal has adhered itself properly to our roads,” said Miceli. “We are now in February, and the asphalt chips are still kicking up on a daily basis.”
Although chip sealing is a cost-effective process of paving the roads, Miceli said that, in her experience, it’s also costing the town more money during the snow removal season.
Miceli said that she recently noticed a street sweeper going up and down her street for over a two hour period after a snow storm.
“When a plow comes through, it loosens the chip seal, so the chips need to be tamped down again so that it re-adheres,” said Miceli. “If we need to send additional town crews and equipment up and down roads, it’s not that cost effective or time effective.”
As a town councilor, Miceli said that she has received several complaints from neighbors at town functions as well as through email and phone calls.
She also said that some of her neighbors are under the impression that the chip seal is just the beginning of the process of redoing the roads and that they will be finished in the spring.
“A lot of people think there’s more to come in the spring, but this is the end product,” said Miceli. “I think it was a surprise to residents, and Southington never did chip sealing to the roads.”
Miceli said she feels that there should have been a public awareness campaign about the chip seal to inform residents of the change and what to expect. Overall, Miceli said that she hopes she can work with the Council and Town Manager to re-evaluate using chip seal in town.
“There needs to be a better compromise,” said Miceli. “There are some other pavement options that are not as cost effective as chip seal, but are still cheaper than the paving process we were using before,”
Miceli did say that there was one benefit that’s come from chip sealing.
“One positive to the chip sealing—if anything—is that it’s slowed the cars down,” said Miceli. “But even if you’re going 15 miles per hour, the chip seal is still going to be kicking up at your car.”