North Yarmouth tries cost-saving paving on 2 roads

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Within hours on the morning of Aug. 16, a crew had laid a surface on two town roads that the town hopes will be a lower-cost alternative to the rising expense of traditional asphalt.

The process is called “chip sealing.” It uses coarse rock instead of asphalt, and is noisier to drive on and not as smooth, but costs significantly less than normal pavement, according to interim Town Manager Marnie Diffin.

The work on Town Farm Road, and on Milliken Road from the railroad track to West Pownal Road, represents the first time the surface has been used in North Yarmouth.

The town selected roads without much traffic, and without houses very close to the pavement, to serve as a trial.

A town press release earlier this month noted that North Yarmouth spends about $300,000 annually on paving. While one mile of traditional asphalt can cost $250,000, a chip-sealed surface is about $40,000, and such a surface can last up to seven years, depending on traffic, according to the town.

Workers on Aug. 16 first sprayed a thin layer of hot asphalt liquid on the roads, followed by small stone chips, compacted for strong adherence to the asphalt. Excess stone was swept from the surface.

The need for crack sealing is eliminated by the use of chip sealing, and the surface also has greater skid resistance, according to the press release.

Diffin and town Road Foreman Clark Baston conferred last year with officials in Union, where there was experience with chip sealing.

Since excessive speed can dislodge the chips, speed limits on the two roads will be temporarily reduced, according to the town. Greater noise and dust is also expected for the first six weeks.

Diffin said last week that she heard concerns prior to the paving from a bicyclist about riding on the new surface. But as of late Monday morning she had not heard any post-paving feedback.

She noted that one test of the new method will be determining next spring how the road fared during winter snow plowing.

Looking at the newly paved Milliken Road last week as the crew drove away, Baston agreed.

“This should seal, and wear,” he said, “and hopefully we don’t come back for eight years.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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North Yarmouth is trying out a “chip sealing” paving process on two lower-traffic town roads. The coarse rock surface, laid Aug. 16, is on Town Farm and Milliken roads. A thin layer of hot asphalt liquid is first sprayed on the road, followed by the small stone chips, which are compacted for strong adherence to the asphalt.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.