Residents traveling some roads in Warren County have seen the long stretches of crushed white stone covering large swaths of the road.
According to Wes Hess, PennDOT maintenance manager for Warren County, his department is currently undertaking oil and stone seal-coating.
"We have a network of roads, some of which are high-level bituminous and some of which are low-level," Hess noted. "The low-level bituminous roads get the oil and stone treatment."
Times Observer photo by Jacob Perryman
Laying it out
PennDOT crews have been hurrying to complete roadwork, such as laying oil and stone to maintain roadways they can’t afford to pave on schedule, before the end of summer weather.
Bituminous simply means a road contains bitumen, defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as, "any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that occur naturally or are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (as petroleum)."
According to Hess, the roads being treated are largely the ones that happen to be slated for maintenance.
"We have a six-year cycle and the miles we're doing now are just scheduled on the cycle," Hess said. "Most of the roads we're doing have been done like this regularly."
Most, but not all.
PennDOT has faced funding cuts right along with other government agencies as state and federal budgets have continued to be trimmed and the funding they have only stretches so far. In an effort to squeeze the most out of every funding dollar, Hess noted the oil and stone sealing is being used on some roads in place of repavement.
"There are some roads that are on the high-level bituminous network that we don't have the funds to pave right now," Hess pointed out. "So we're at least seal-coating them, knowing we can't pave them, to hold them in the condition they're in now. It (oil and stone sealing) will buy us more time on those roads and extend the pavement life."
It may be a temporary solution but, according to Hess, the benefits are clear.
"The upside is that it seals the surface and adds oil to the oxidized surface to extend its (the road's) life," Hess said. "It keeps water out of the voids and cracks."
At least one resident is less enthused about the process.
Rick Reiff, who lives along Jackson Run Road, which has undergone the process, said he has faced oil running into his driveway and has concerns over the safety hazard the semi-loose stones present.
"It's turned into just a mess," Reiff said. "I just can't understand why, in this day and age, they would use this on a busy road. I know I'm not alone in my exasperation over this."
Hess said drivers need to be careful and those affected by work need to be patient.
"We have signs in place to warn people of our operation," Hess said. "We are sweeping the loose stones off. They (drivers) should be more aware when driving on fresh oil and stone. Driving at safe speeds will prevent accidents when they come upon equipment, which may be moving slower. We appreciate patience as we go about maintaining the roads in Warren County."
State routes within Warren County which have received, or will receive, seal coat treatment this year include:
Hemlock Rd., Pennsylvania Ave. to Grotto Rd.
Hatch Run Rd., To SR 1011
Hatch Run Rd., Conewango Ave. to Scandia Rd.
Conewango Ave., City limits (Warren) to Hatch Run Rd.
Conewango Ave., Hatch Run Rd. to end of road
Scandia Rd., Cobham Park Rd. to Haskins Boat Barn
Scandia Rd., Haskins Boat Barn to New York state line
Fifth Avenue Ext., Warren City limits to Smiths Corners
Jackson Ave., Warren City limits to Fifth Avenue Ext.
Irvinedale Rd., Cobham Park Rd. to Jackson Ave. Ext.
Page Hollow Rd., Cobham Park Rd. to Fifth Avenue Ext.
N. State St., Market St. to Segment 20
N. State Street, Segment 20 to SR 62
Bull Hill Rd., 2010 CRP to bridge in Sheffield
Mohawk Ave. Ext., Chapman Dam Rd. to Zimmerman Rd.
Brown Run Rd., dirt portion to township road
Grunderville Rd., Route 62 to dead end
Billman Rd., Dead end to bridge plus 150 feet
Bimber Run Rd., Route 62 to SR 3005
Cobham Rd., Route 62 to SR 3005