Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Residents want county to repair rocky roads

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Some downcounty residents are months deep into a campaign against what they say was a hack job on their streets. County contractors who were supposed to fix the roads have left them in worse shape, they said.

Roads in 32 of the county’s subdivisions were scheduled for repairs last summer under the county’s ‘‘micro pave” program. County contractors laid out a surface treatment on the roads using a ‘‘micro pave” technique.

The micro pave — cold liquid asphalt emulsion used to fill cracks and protect roads — was one of the county’s approaches to extending the life of roads that are in relatively good shape.

Now residents of Chevy Chase and Kensington are on a mission to get those roads repaved. Instead of fixing their streets, residents said the county’s contractors and the ‘‘micro pave” made the roads laden with gravel, unpleasant and unsightly.

Most residents who are upset want the roads repaved.

‘‘Frankly, the roads were better before they did the micro paving,” said Pat Pugliese of Rock Creek Hills in Kensington.

‘‘It’s completely bumpy. I mean, you vibrate down the road if you got anything in your car” and it ‘‘cheapens the look of the neighborhood,” Pugliese said.

Fritz Hirst, of the Rollingwood neighborhood in Chevy Chase, has asked the County Council and the Department of Public Works and Transportation to fix what he said is substandard road work.

‘‘We are asking for a plan that will provide some assurance that our roads will be restored by some future date. We recognize that [the county has] a budget problem right now,” Hirst said. ‘‘Where we once had smooth roads we now have rough and unattractive roads. ... My children now have trouble rollerblading and biking and scootering.”

Hirst and other residents said the county’s contractors laid micro pave over manhole covers, let the material spill to the curbs in front of houses and left unsightly and awkward seams in the road.

Hirst sees the project as ‘‘a complete failure of the county’s responsibility to inspect its contractors.”

The county has agreed to correct contractors’ errors — to ‘‘correct any problems they thought were the result of poor quality,” said Esther Bowring, county spokeswoman.

But DPWT will not to tear up and redo the micro paved neighborhoods’ roads.

‘‘Micro paving has a place,” Bowring said. It is ‘‘a surface treatment that restores the asphalt that has not deteriorated to the point that it needs to be replaced.”

Alternately, the county uses hot-mix asphalt to revamp roads that are in disrepair, which the Chevy Chase and Kensington roads were not, Bowring said.

‘‘There may be a difference of understanding in what these two systems are trying to accomplish,” she said.

County Council President Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said in a response to a letter last month from Rollingwood Citizens Association that ‘‘the cost of hot-mix asphalt is five times that of micropave.”

The county budget for the next six fiscal years calls for about $25 million in resurfacing construction funds, with an increase over previous years ‘‘due to patching and resurfacing with hot mix asphalt instead of micro-seal paving.”

Knapp in his letter asked DPWT to ‘‘evaluate” and ‘‘fix” any substandard micro pave areas.

Residents vary in their ideas for solutions.

‘‘We don’t necessarily want them to come back and do it some other way, because we don’t want our taxes to be wasted,” said Kira Lueders of the Parkwood neighborhood of Kensington. ‘‘But we would like to be at the top of list” for road refurbishing.

Andrea Stumpf of Rock Creek Hills wants the ‘‘pitiful” roads resurfaced ‘‘sooner rather than later.”

It’s a ‘‘travesty” to have bumpy, rough roads in a neighborhood where people invest time and money in beautifying their yards and houses, she said.

‘‘It’s really like third-world conditions as far as the roads,” she said.