After complaints from residents, the Town of Gibsons had a company from Surrey professionally sweep the chipseal roads in Creekside on April 8. But residents still complain about loose gravel, potholes and gulleys.
A road maintenance professional from the Lower Mainland who asked not be named said that he had never seen anything like it. “The coating is not good. Sweeping will not help, it just pulls up more gravel. It will continue to come up all summer.”
The Creekside neighbourhood is behind Firehall No. 1 in Gibsons, off North Road.
Chipseal is a layer of tar or bitumen covered with aggregate. It provides no structural strength. Chipseal is used on rural roads with low traffic in Alberta and some states in the United States.
The Town of Gibsons decided to use chipseal because it is cheaper than pavement. Director of engineering Dave Newman has estimated that the town would save approximately $500,000 by choosing chipseal over traditional asphalt.
“Realtors have started
to call the Creekside area
The Trickle Hood”
Some streets in Creekside lost their pavement to chipseal. At the end of last summer, the pavement on Tricklebrook Way, Seacot Way, Mountainview Drive and Hillcrest Road was broken up, ground up in place, graded and compacted to provide a base for the chipseal, Newman said in an email to a resident.
“What did it cost to remove the pavement? Why didn’t the town just fill the potholes?” a Tricklebrook resident asked.
On Martin Road, Brookside Place, Trickle Court and Pleasant Place the chipseal was applied on top of the pavement.
Within a month after the chipseal application residents were complaining about potholes, washboard and gulleys. “If the holes get any bigger, we’ll have ducks,” one resident on Hillcrest joked last week.
Residents complain that the dirt-road appearance has decreased their property values. Local realtors have started to call the area The Trickle Hood, a resident on Tricklebrook Way claims.
Mayor Wayne Rowe told a dozen residents from the area during a council meeting on October 18 that the town faces “extraordinary pressures” to maintain infrastructure.
“Quite simply, the choice that your council had to make is either we abandon road maintenance altogether or we find alternative solutions,” Rowe told them.
The town had to borrow $244,000 to cover the cost for the chipsealing project.
A number of residents on Hillcrest, Tricklebrook, Mountainview and Seacot say they have complained to the town about flying gravel causing dents in parked cars, chipped paint, and damage to windshields. Car owners have found tar on fenders and bodywork. Motorcycles, bicycles and small trucks easily skid. Pedestrians have difficulty walking on the loose gravel.
During hot weather, the tar can bubble up through the gravel. One resident complained to the town about tarry damage to her carpeting and hardwood floors. The town had the stains removed, she said.
Janice Haerthe, who lives on the corner of Seacot and Mountainview, said that at the time of the chipseal operation, ground-up asphalt and debris from the old road ended up in the draining ditches. After the snowfalls, piles of gravel ended up at both sides of the corner, much of it going into the draining ditches as well.
After the chipseal was applied, the dust from passing cars in drier weather started to affect her breathing, Haerthe said.
Several other residents mentioned the effect of the dust on their health.
Karen Careless, a grandmother who uses an electric scooter, has a young grandson on Tricklebrook. She finds it very heavy going to visit him on the chipseal road. Afraid of flying gravel, she has to pull to the side of the road whenever a car passes. “How can kids learn to ride bikes on these roads,” she wondered.
Several residents said the chipseal makes it difficult for them to use their wheeled shopping carts.
The chipseal requires maintenance. At the end of October, the town hired a big machine to sweep the roads as well. This did not solve the problems.
Newman reported that record-setting heavy rainfall after chipsealing and heavy vehicle traffic had caused problems with the project.
“The result is that the roads will continue to have the appearance of a gravel road until we get enough of a stretch of dry weather to break up the hard-packed layer on the road. We cannot scrape the layer off as there is a concern that it will damage the new surface underneath,“ Newman wrote in a letter to residents.
“I guess it would be an understatement to say all of us – council, staff – are as disappointed as the residents with how it’s gone up to this point,” Mayor Rowe said during a special committee meeting on April 3 this year.
Newman told councillors that timing and bad luck with the weather contributed to the initial problems, but recent inspections with the contractor confirmed the road surfaces are now settling. He also said the contractor will be dealing with defects later this spring.
The Coast Clarion asked Newman and Mayor Rowe last week in an email if there is any possibility the streets will be repaved in the future, and if the town has plans to apply chipseal on other streets in Gibsons.
There was no response.
(written with files from local residents)