By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Summer is a time for travel and vacations, but it is also a time for patching potholes and paving. Local road crews are working to have most of their paving projects completed before students return to school.
“As you can imagine, we’re at the height of the paving season,” said Tom Camden, district supervisor for the West Virginia Department of Highways. “We have close to a dozen projects planned both in Mercer and McDowell counties. Our goal is to try and get as many of them as we can done before schools open.”
Crews will be “hard pressed” to finish everything before summer break ends, so they will concentrate on the areas where paving would cause the most disruption to traffic, he said.
District 10, which includes Mercer and McDowell counties, does not have any plans for paving parts of Interstate 77, but there are plans for several Route 460 projects, Camden said.
“We will be primarily starting at the (Mercer) mall entrance all the way back to Princeton,” he stated. “Those are contract jobs which should be let sometime in August. We have one project going on at Route 20 toward Athens which will probably extend into the school season.”
Crews working on the Athens road project will use a new technique called “micro-surfacing,” Camden said. It requires less asphalt.
“It’s somewhat of a new program that uses a thinner layer. Instead of going in and paving an inch and a half, this will use a thinner layer overall. It works better on roads that are in fairly good shape already, and hopefully will extend the life of the roadway.”
Paving is possible only during the warmer months when asphalt plants are open, Camden said. Besides paving projects, highway crews are also performing routine maintenance such as patching potholes and clearing ditches.
“We also have (two-lane) bridge projects in McDowell County; one is in Anawalt and one is down around Welch,” Camden said. “They should be coming in the very near future.”