Residents sound off over road seal

Manager says gravel common, cheaper
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Gravel, noise and no notification have some South Auburn residents and local bicyclists annoyed. Last week the Road Maintenance Division of the Placer County Public Works Department put down a chip seal on Shirland Tract, Andregg, Crockett, Rattlesnake and Newcastle roads as well as Emerald Pines Drive. According to Kevin Taber, Road Maintenance Division manager, a chip seal is when a layer of latex-modified oil is laid down on a road, followed by a layer of gravel. The county then sweeps up the loose gravel that doesn’t stick to the oil. Taber said Monday these roads had not been chip sealed since 1995 and were only being patched with asphalt, so it was time for the procedure to take place again. Over the weekend Ray and Vickie Ferrari took a survey of residents and bicyclists on Shirland Tract to make a formal complaint to the county about the chip sealing. They sent that petition along with a letter of to the Roads Division. Vickie Ferrari said there are numerous reasons why she and her husband are upset about the project, including the noise caused by passing cars, which they can hear through their bedroom window every night. “I have taken to having to sleeping in another bedroom since Friday night because it’s so loud,” Vickie Ferrari said. “It’s ridiculous.” Ray Ferrari said even though county workers finished the sealing last week, there is still loose gravel sitting on the shoulder of the road and in the driveways of half-a-dozen homes. Ray Ferrari said loose gravel could cause damage to cars, including broken windshields. “We are picking up gravel on our tires that when we go on the freeway … there are rocks flying off our tires that are hitting the bottom of our trucks or vehicles every day,” he said. Vickie Ferrari said neighbors were also upset about the sealing, because they didn’t receive any notice from the county about the work. Newcastle resident Olivia Bender, who lives on Rattlesnake Road, said neighbors thought the road would be taken care of a different way. “Nobody was notified this was happening,” Bender said. “We all thought the roads were going to be repaved.” Taber said the county did not notify residents. “We have never done it in the past, but it’s something I would definitely consider in the future,” he said. “We can’t notify everybody of everything we do, and especially in rural areas where there are no houses around and very little public contact.” In an e-mail to Ray Ferrari Monday afternoon, Taber noted that the county should have told neighbors about the sealing. “In this instance I agree that at a minimum we could/should have put up a changeable message board to notify you and your neighbors,” Taber said. Ray Ferrari said on Shirland Tract, which is a popular spot for bicyclists and the Auburn Triathlon, the loose ground presents a threat for riders. “A majority of the people come down the hill and they don’t have much steering,” Ray Ferrari said. “Shirland Tract is really dangerous right now.” Harold Lansing, who has lived on Shirland Tract for 15 years, said while the noise has increased, the project has also caused him additional discomfort. “Personally I have a breathing problem,” Lansing said. “I’m on oxygen 24/7, and there is quite a bit of dust generated from the work that has been done. I can’t keep any windows open on the street side during the day and sometimes at night.” Taber said the county chose chip sealing rather than pavement overlay because of the cost difference. “Chip seals are bread and butter for road maintenance … just because it’s so cost-effective,” he said. Taber said last week’s chip sealing for the Auburn and Newcastle streets cost upward of $70,000, but a pavement overlay would have cost about $600,000, and chip sealing is procedure for rural roads. Taber said there are certain areas of North Auburn being paved right now, including Bell Road, because these roads receive more traffic and present more of a demand for overlay. “It’s an issue of funding, but it’s also an issue of that’s a rural road and that’s the proper surface for it,” he said. The county is still cleaning up after the process and the road will become slightly smoother over time, but the county can’t pull up the chip seal or pay for paving, Taber said. “We are still out there sweeping and removing loose gravel,” Taber said. “It’s not a smooth surface like brand-new asphalt, and I guess if we had all the money in the world we would be overlaying our roads, but unfortunately we don’t. It’s on par for the way a chip seal road progresses.” Frank Brockmann is a Folsom resident who rides his bicycle on Shirland Tract, but said he skipped the road over the weekend because he was afraid of damaging his tires. “I had a brand-new set of tires on, which is why I said forget it,” Brockmann said. “Basically you could be $100 poorer for riding down that hill right now.” Reach Bridget Jones at