Monday, September 20, 2004
Steamboat Springs Cyclists and motorists will have a chance to learn everything they ever wanted to know about the chip-seal process used by Routt County during a meeting at 6 p.m. today in the commissioners hearing room at the Routt County Courthouse.
The chip-seal process, and more specifically, the relatively large size of gravel used by the county, has been criticized by a group of citizens who have formed the Stop the Brutal Chip-n-Seal Alliance.
The group's goal is to convince the Routt County Board of Commissioners to use smaller gravel. Group members contend the county's chip-seal practice is a safety hazard as well as something that makes riding a bicycle along the valley's scenic roads far less pleasant.
County Road and Bridge Superintendent Paul Draper told the county commissioners Monday morning he will give a Power Point presentation tonight that will introduce the public to the reasons his department uses chip-seal. Then he will give overviews of the cost and benefits of using larger rock chips.
Essentially, he said, the larger gravel holds up longer and thus is significantly less expensive.
The commissioners have received letters from constituents and people in the cycling industry asking them to reconsider their chip-seal practices. The authors include Ride the Rockies tour director Paul Balaguer, former U.S. Nordic Combined skiing coach Tom Steitz and winter Olympians Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane.
Mark Bennett, general manager of Sore Saddle Bicycle Shop, wrote to say that road cycling is growing both here and nationally, while mountain biking is tapering off. "If Routt County and Steamboat are to benefit from tourist dollars through this increase in road bike popularity, they must have user-friendly roads for the cyclist," Bennett wrote. "The negative economic impact of a vacation location chosen in part for road biking potential will be apparent if Routt County is deemed unsatisfactory for the road bike experience."
Chip-seal, Draper said, is an application of liquid asphalt followed with small chips of gravel. The process is typically repeated every four to seven years. It is intended to extend the life of the pavement and improve skid resistance.
Although applying chip-seal to a mile of road is costly, it represents a cost savings by a factor of four to five times compared to allowing the asphalt surface to go untreated for 15 or more years, Draper said.
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