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Salem paving projects get delayed

Lack of materials puts South Madison Street, Merle Road six weeks behind schedule

SALEM–Paving projects on South Madison Avenue and Merle Road are delayed a month and a half due to a supply issue, city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said Tuesday.

He wanted to make the public aware that those projects will take longer.

With some good news, though, he said the project on North Lincoln Avenue is just about complete, with the road expected to reopen soon, possibly as early as today. The contractor and engineer were awaiting test results for the concrete before removing the barriers.

To explain the delay on the paving project, Kenst said RT Vernal applied the surface coat of asphalt onto South Madison and Merle on Saturday, then learned the fiberglass mesh that had been ordered for the next step of the process wasn’t coming for another six weeks. Both streets are concrete, but the city decided to use a different resurfacing technique for them, using asphalt and the fiberglass mesh as a base on top of the concrete, then placing a top coat of asphalt.

Without the fiberglass mesh being available for the supplier to install, the project is effectively halted for now for RT Vernal.

“They were just as upset as we were,” Kenst said.

The mesh comes in a roll and is rolled out like a carpet onto sticky tar. The supplier will get the mesh from the manufacturer and install it when it arrives. A substitution was offered, but the city didn’t want any substitutions, he said.

“We want to go with the good product because we want to do other streets this way and we want to make sure we have good material,” he said.

The sections affected include South Madison from Southeast to State and Merle from Fairview Avenue to the end past Southeast School. Both roads are open with a layer of asphalt on them, but with 2- to 3-inch drop-offs from side roads, so Kenst said the contractor will install ramps of asphalt so there won’t be such big dips in the roads for now.

The city first used the combination of fiberglass mesh and asphalt on concrete in 2016 on North Union Avenue as a test case. Three years later, there have been no problems, so the city decided to use it again on a couple of less-traveled concrete streets as an alternative to making concrete repairs.

Kenst noted they could not use this method on heavily traveled streets such as State, Pershing and Southeast Boulevard, which were part of a large concrete repair project last year and this year. Those streets carry too much traffic and trucks, but he said there are other concrete streets that don’t get nearly the traffic.

“We believe this will work out fine. We can’t afford to repair all the concrete streets and saw this as an alternative,” he said.

The delay won’t cause an increase to the cost, according to Kenst.

While awaiting this mesh material, he said there was a change order to the project for RT Vernal to do some surface repairs to South Ellsworth Avenue, Aetna, Romine and Southeast Boulevard where there were some water line breaks. The cost of that work will be covered by the city utilities department.

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