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  1. #1
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    Back to the stone age...this happening in your neighborhood?

    Apparently the latest trend in this country is to rip up asphalt roads and convert them back to gravel.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...363737746.html

    Anyone else seeing this in their area? Any of your favorite roads getting turned back to gravel or chipseal? I'm starting to see it here in Central Texas as some of the more rural roads around here are getting redone with chipseal rather than asphalt.

    Sigh.....

  2. #2
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    Have seen this happening in the Midwest (where I grew up). In some cases they don't replace the entire road -- they go through and will convert sections to gravel where the asphalt has degraded to the point where they can't economically repair it. So you'll have several hundred yards of gravel, then back to asphalt, then gravel, and so on.

    Lots of chipseal these days, too...

  3. #3
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Unfortunate, but another argument for wider tires.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  4. #4
    Senior Member Waxbytes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Unfortunate, but another argument for wider tires.
    And fenders.
    Uhmm...

  5. #5
    I Love My Dream
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    and bicycle infrastructure
    It's none of my business what other people think of me.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saddle Up View Post
    and bicycle infrastructure
    You do understand we're talking about the wide open spaces, right? At least in the examples I'm talking about, these are counties where roads used to be paved so farmers could get their crops to market in bad weather, or families could take their kids to school in the middle of winter when the roads had mud that was 3 feet deep. Over the years, farms have gotten larger; population in some rural counties have dropped; and folks have moved to small towns or gradually migrated over closer to the highways and interstates. Populations are declining as you move away from medium-sized cities. Consequently, there is no longer taxpayer support to pay to pave roads that are lightly trafficked and/or running to very underpopulated areas.

    They're not worried about bicycle infrastructure; they're worried about having enough families to support a school.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
    Unfortunate, but another argument for wider tires.
    No, there were, and are, oodles of roads in this country that have no justification for being paved. Properly engineered and properly built gravel roads are just as all weather as asphaltic concrete, are cheaper to build, and are cheaper to maintain. Pavement only makes sense where traffic volume or traffic type demands it. Low traffic rural roads do just fine as gravel. Sure, you can't drive as fast on them. If it bothers you, I'm sure the authorities responsible for maintaining them will take your ear marked contribution for maintenance, or you could work got get road users to pay for the costs they inflict by their usage. That would require substantially higher vehicle registration fees, way higher fuel taxes, and a surcharge increasing with the fourth power of axle weight. None of that would be popular: look at the person in ND who voted against a road tax, but is trying to get the county to spend money it doesn't have to maintain her road.

    To answer the question asked, yes, I've seen some roads I occasionally ride on in Michigan that have been de-paved.

  8. #8
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    I grew up with chipseal. All the good roads in the southwest corner of Virginia were chipseal for many years. It works fine except just after they've dumped the oil and rock. I wouldn't consider that a dirt road.

    However, my understanding is that it really wouldn't require that significant a raise in taxes to maintain these roads. PA wanted to sell off the turnpike, but it turns out that only an 8 cent increase in gas taxes would be the equivalent. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but I'm in a small minority it seems.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I grew up with chipseal. All the good roads in the southwest corner of Virginia were chipseal for many years. It works fine except just after they've dumped the oil and rock. I wouldn't consider that a dirt road.
    It depends on the subsurface. You can apply a chip seal top coat to an asphalt road, or you can prepare an gravel surface, and chip coat that. (For those who don't know, chip sealing is a paving process in which hot asphalt is sprayed on the ground, followed immediately by fine crushed aggregate, and then a roller, to compact the aggregate into the hot asphalt (bitumen, in much of the rest of the world). The excess stone is then supposed to be swept up.) The chip seal surface is reasonably water proof, which reduces damage to the subsurface, but it's not terribly durable, it's very rough, and it's loud. If it's on a flexible sub-surface, like gravel, it moves a lot, which leads to wash boarding, which is now harder to fix than it was on the untreated gravel. If it's applied to a non-flexible sub-surface (good quality pavement), it doesn't move, because the subsurface doesn't move; in that case, it can extend the time period between resurfacing with asphaltic concrete, and can greatly improve the wet weather traction of worn pavement. (At the cost of noise, increased tire wear of the vehicles traveling on it, and reduction in fuel economy of the vehicles traveling on it.)

  10. #10
    Randomhead
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    the chip sealing I've seen done skips the rolling and sweeping and just lets the traffic take care of it. I'm guessing most of the roads I ride on that are still chip seal never saw much paving. Wash boarding is definitely a problem, especially on downhill corners.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    You do understand we're talking about the wide open spaces, right? At least in the examples I'm talking about, these are counties where roads used to be paved so farmers could get their crops to market in bad weather, or families could take their kids to school in the middle of winter when the roads had mud that was 3 feet deep. Over the years, farms have gotten larger; population in some rural counties have dropped; and folks have moved to small towns or gradually migrated over closer to the highways and interstates. Populations are declining as you move away from medium-sized cities. Consequently, there is no longer taxpayer support to pay to pave roads that are lightly trafficked and/or running to very underpopulated areas.

    They're not worried about bicycle infrastructure; they're worried about having enough families to support a school.
    I was making a general comment. All over North America we spend an obscene amount of money maintaining our streets and highways, incredible amounts of money. If we all collectively spent less on roads and more on things like mass transit or bicycle infrastructure I wonder how things would be different. From neighborhoods in rural Texas to 5th Ave in New York, roads cost taxpayers money, lots of it.

    The reign of the automoble coming to an end.
    Last edited by Saddle Up; 07-18-10 at 08:39 PM.
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  12. #12
    succumbs to errata jaypee's Avatar
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    More gravel roads means more gravel races. I approve.

  13. #13
    This is Shangri La MTBMaven's Avatar
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    I seriously doubt this will be happening much in the Los Angeles area.
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  14. #14
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
    Apparently the latest trend in this country is to rip up asphalt roads and convert them back to gravel.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...363737746.html

    Anyone else seeing this in their area? Any of your favorite roads getting turned back to gravel or chipseal? I'm starting to see it here in Central Texas as some of the more rural roads around here are getting redone with chipseal rather than asphalt.

    Sigh.....
    Pretty much everything is devolving to chipseal around here. Yet another reason to ride 700x35's.

    SP
    Bend, OR

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saddle Up View Post
    I was making a general comment. All over North America we spend an obscene amount of money maintaining our streets and highways, incredible amounts of money. If we all collectively spent less on roads and more on things like mass transit or bicycle infrastructure I wonder how things would be different. From neighborhoods in rural Texas to 5th Ave in New York, roads cost taxpayers money, lots of it.

    The reign of the automoble coming to an end.
    I love bicycling as much as the next person but if I were a cyclist in a rural county, like the ones described in the WSJ article, I don't think I'd get far arguing that the county commissioners should rip up the roads and invest in light rail, bus service, or bike lanes out to the local farms or ranches. More realistically, I'd find common cause with the locals who wanted to keep the roads paved for auto traffic and work with them to evaluate how the local taxpayers could scrape up the money to keep the roads paved.

    ....or switch to bigger tires.....

  16. #16
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    I love bicycling as much as the next person but if I were a cyclist in a rural county, like the ones described in the WSJ article, I don't think I'd get far arguing that the county commissioners should rip up the roads and invest in light rail, bus service, or bike lanes out to the local farms or ranches. More realistically, I'd find common cause with the locals who wanted to keep the roads paved for auto traffic and work with them to evaluate how the local taxpayers could scrape up the money to keep the roads paved.

    ....or switch to bigger tires.....
    I'd play both sides of the game - work with the other road users and get wider tires. This is happening in Michigan, too.

  17. #17
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I ride the farming roads of western washington on a routine basis with the Seattle Randonneurs, and much of what we encounter is chip-seal. Some (very little of it is chosen for our routes) is hardpack gravel, like the Mountain Loop Highway. Even less (chosen specifically for the challenge) is "unimproved forest service road", like Babyshoe Pass.

    700 x 32 is my tire of choice, and I'll step up to 35 or 38mm if necessary for a route.
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  18. #18
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    There's a small section of road in South Minneapolis (higher than average volume through street in a residential neighborhood) that is covered in lose gravel now. I only cross the street, but it's awful. My 700x32mm tires swim through this stuff.

  19. #19
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    lots of dirt / gravel to ride here in VT.
    better shape than the paved roads in many cases... and lots less traffic too.

  20. #20
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    It's the future, there are a lot of un-sustainable roads out there, not to mention the anti-gov't sentiment in many rural areas. No taxes, no civilization.

    Maybe it is time to round-up the 10%+ who are unemployed and give them jobs on road crews!

  21. #21
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    My local weekly paper said the city council in my little suburb just approved $100,000 to "test" chipseal surfaces on some of the streets in our town (suburb of Seattle). Ick.

  22. #22
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    There's chipseal, and then there's boulderseal. I've ridden all through Oregon and that stuff is asphalt compared to what they're doing to us in Texas. TXDOT is going nuts, taking perfectly good smooth roads and overlaying raised rough rock. The only benefit is you can hear a car coming from a mile away. Literally. I can't even stand to drive on it in a car.

  23. #23
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aikigreg View Post
    There's chipseal, and then there's boulderseal. I've ridden all through Oregon and that stuff is asphalt compared to what they're doing to us in Texas. TXDOT is going nuts, taking perfectly good smooth roads and overlaying raised rough rock. The only benefit is you can hear a car coming from a mile away. Literally. I can't even stand to drive on it in a car.
    Part of the reason to tear up the roads is liability.... people will drive a lot faster on asphalt with the expectation that there isn't going to be a giant pot-hole or chunks of torn up asphalt allover. The speed is slower on boulder-seal and the expectations lower, the road repairs will also be far easier. The roads of the future do and are going to look a lot different where the "growth" phase of a state or city is ending and the lifespan of the original asphalt road has come to an end, you can see this allover with cracking highway overpasses and such. Not much thought is given to the long-term implications of spending all that original cash on superfluous paved roads for cars, instead the city or state just wants to pave it, sell the land to some suckers(you and me) and then pull out the bottoms of it's pockets to show you they're empty... not the best solution.

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