State DOT says Route 1 paving project in Stonington will be redone in September
By Joe Wojtas
Stonington — A state Department of Transportation spokesman said Tuesday that the recent paving of Route 1 which resulted in a “washboard” effect for drivers will be redone in September at no cost to the state.
Kevin Nursick said the decision was made to wait until then to do the work so as not to further inconvenience drivers during the busy summer tourism season. Plans now call for milling off one inch of the pavement and then installing one inch of new asphalt to correct the problem.
He said the contractor, American Industries of Jewett City, is on board with the plan.
Shortly after the $870,000 project was completed last month, drivers along the 2.6 miles of road from Broadway Extension to Route 1A noticed the uneven or washboard quality of the road in both directions.
Nursick, however, said that the poor ride quality was not due to the two seams which run down the middle of each lane, as they do not come in contact with the tires of cars and trucks. While such seams are often seen in the middle of the road where the center line is painted, Nursick said the location of the seam depends on the width of the road.
In this case, he said the problem is the result of the surface condition of the pavement or its overall profile. Nursick said a DOT pavement analysis expert inspected the road and determined that the problem was related to how the pavement was installed by the contractor.
Nursick said detailed specifications for the milling and paving are spelled out in the contract and detailed requirements, such as the level of compaction, type of pavement and temperature during installation. While DOT did have an inspector on site during the work, Nursick said the problem was not noticed until the work was done and the pavement was driven on.
While the problem is more pronounced in certain areas, Nursick said, the DOT does not allow for just certain sections to be replaced.
“We want a fresh, unadulterated pavement surface from curb to curb,” he said. “The entire section of road will be repaired to achieve the results we want.”
He said not doing so would affect ride quality and the lifespan of the road, as water, sand and salt could get in the seams. Those seams are different from the seams down the center of the lanes, which are joined in a way to prevent such issues.
Nursick said DOT and the contractors it hires repave several hundred miles of state roads each year and problems such as those on Route 1 are “extraordinarily rare.”
As for the September paving, Nursick said, “We don’t want to go back out there and put people through this again in the middle of the summer season.”
The original paving caused sometimes lengthy backups along Route 1.
Shortly after the project was complete, residents took to the Stonington Community Forum Facebook page to complain about the road.
A few weeks ago, police Chief J. Darren Stewart wrote to DOT saying that at a June 14 Board of Police Commissioners meeting, concerns were raised about the paving. In particular, he said, the joints have created a seam in many places and an uneven dip in the road westbound at the foot of Lord’s Hill near Collins Road, which he said was the area of main concern.