Jun 222012

Photo by Tammy Gray -- Millings from the West Hopi Drive repaving project are being pressed back into service as inexpensive paving for dirt roads and parking lots around Holbrook. This lot between the Hunt Park baseball field and the city library is just one of the places in town where the millings are being used.


By Tammy Gray —

Potholes in Holbrook’s streets are so common that they seem almost normal, and only paved roads that are so rough they could damage a fast-moving car receive much comment. Fortunately, however, that is changing, one city block at a time.

Portions of six streets, as well as several small one-block sections, have already been repaved with concrete this season, with at least five more scheduled. Other roads and parking lots will be paved with millings.

“We couldn’t even sweep them, some were so bad,” Holbrook City Manager Ray Alley said of the repaved streets.

In past years, streets have been repaved one at a time in long stretches, such as Florida from Navajo Blvd. to Eighth Avenue. According to Alley, using concrete rather than asphalt has allowed crews to re-pave smaller sections, hitting the worst streets first.

“With asphalt, you can’t do a block at a time,” Alley remarked. “And it needs chip sealed every three to four years.”

The cost of the concrete streets is approximately $100 per yard. The streets are six to eight inches thick, and are reinforced with fiber. According to Alley, they should have a lifespan of at least 30 years and require little maintenance. He did not have a direct cost comparison available, but noted that he believes the concrete will save money in the long run due to it’s long lifespan and low maintenance. The downside of concrete streets is that repairs to sewer or water lines under the streets will be more difficult.

“If there’s a problem, it will be more labor intensive; it will be harder to find and get to if we did have a water break,” Alley said. “But I don’t think there will be as many breaks because the concrete is more stable.”

He also pointed out that concrete can easily be patched if it must be cut for a repair.

According to Alley, he is choosing streets based on their condition and amount of traffic.

“The council said to pick which ones,” he noted. “So we’re picking the ones that are the worst and have the most traffic.”

To date, portions of 13th Avenue, Delaware Street, West Florida Street, West Erie Street, 12th Avenue and East Florida Street, as well as streets running north-south between Arizona and Buffalo streets, have been repaved with concrete. Next up are portions of Seventh Avenue, another section of 12th Avenue, First Avenue, West Erie Street, East Delaware and another section of East Florida Street.

Alley noted that crews will continue repaving streets as long as there is money available to do so.

“Sales taxes (revenues) are up, expenses are down, so we’re putting money into infrastructure,” Alley said. “We’re using sales tax to subsidize HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund). We’re running lean, so we’re tak-ing money out of the general fund. It’s the opposite of what most cities are doing.”

In addition to repaving streets with concrete, the city is using millings obtained at no cost from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to pave dirt roads and parking lots. The portion of Hermosa Drive that was previously dirt has already been covered in millings, as well as an extension of Lewis Street between Strayhand Drive and Highway 180.

“Millings give us cheap roads that are really good,” Alley said. “The more you drive on them, the better they get.”

According to Alley, the millings are placed three to four inches thick, bladed and then compacted with wa-ter. He explained that the only cost to the city is hauling the millings, and paying someone to blade and compact them. He estimates that the dirt portion of Hermosa Drive cost $5,000 to $6,000 to pave, and would have cost at least 10 times more if a hot mix was used.

A large pile of millings remains, and Alley anticipates there will be enough to pave the dirt parking lot be-tween the Hunt Park baseball field and the city library, and the parking lots at the baseball fields adjacent to Lisitzky Park, as well as Blue Sage Street, which is one of the last remaining city-maintained dirt roads.

“We won’t have to blade them, so in the long run it saves the city money,” Alley said.

He noted that the dirt portion of Hermosa was especially troubling for the city since it is a school bus route and busses had trouble traversing the route in wet weather.

The millings being used for the project came from West Hopi Drive, which ADOT recently repaved. Alley noted that if the existing millings run out before all the projects are completed, he hopes to obtain more from ADOT.