View Full Version : ...Sigh...

Simple Nature
09-11-2011, 11:17 PM
We lost another 2 miles of great road surface to some seriously rough chip seal. This one is on the way out from Hillsboro to the Banks-Vernonia trailhead.

Out of Hillsboro, NW Padgett Rd. and NW Laisy Rd. (mile 6 to 8 on the linked map) use to be super smooth and was a real joy to finish the ride with. Now, this 2 miles stretch has been repaved and the chipseal is absolutely horrible!

I know this is nothing new and WashCo/Hillsboro has ruined 100's of miles of perfectly good roadway and bike lanes in the last several years. I am more sensitive to it on my trike where my eyeballs and my mirrors make watching for traffic more difficult. My heart rate monitor adds 15-20 beats/minute compared to the sweet glide on some of our better suburban neighborhood lanes.

I was so upset that I decided to take a different route back which, in retrospect really wasn't any better. It is an old route I haven't done for a while through North Plains. I was armed with map, so I wasn't too worried about getting lost. But even so, Harrison Rd (mile 23) at the end of Banks Rd. turned out to be freakin' gravel!

I'm glad it is near the end of the season for long country road rides but this loss of the "last vestage" of premium cycling surface between here and the B/V trail is to me a serious loss. We need a road surface condition standard! When we get new roads in Beaverton, 90% of the time they are heaven (can't wait for 5th St. to be finished!). Is this yet another way that Hillsboro/WashCo. is telling cyclists to get lost?

How do you guys on DF's feel about chipseal?

...Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

09-12-2011, 03:59 AM
It's the worst. The county is putting it everywhere. I also would argue that it doesn't make the road any better than it was before. If someone would run for office on the platform of stopping all future chipseal projects they'd have my vote.

09-12-2011, 09:03 AM
Don't really know, but I expect chipseal is a more economical treatment, making it a logical option for the county to use instead of a smoother asphalt surface. Road dept's have a harder and harder time getting work needed to be done, within their budgets. Or maybe it's used because it drains better, making it a less slippery surface for motor vehicles. For car travel, chipseal makes for a much, much noisier ride, so I doubt the treatment is popular with people that travel in in cars.

In past, I've been on some chipseal surfaced roads that were kind of unpleasant to ride on with a diamond frame bike, but I haven't been riding on long rides of late, so it's been a while. Can't remember which roads they were. As I'm beginning to remember, some definitely are worse than others. Seems as though riding on the really bad ones produced a lot of vibration through the handlebars. 700c wheels are fairly big, helping to take out road vibration that smaller wheels wouldn't be able to do as good a job of.

Unless it really effects motor vehicle travel too, cyclists objecting to the use of chipseal over road surface treatments providing a smoother ride, would undoubtedly raise and strengthen the standard chorus requesting a road use tax specifically applied to bike use.

09-12-2011, 09:24 AM
Since 2008 it has been plainly evident to local DOTs that the cost of asphalt vs concrete lean heavily towards concrete for bot initial costs and long term maintenance costs.
Unfortunately what has also become evident is that the funding that gas taxes provide, which are different in each state ranging from over 2/3 to to around 1/4. While Oregon's fuel tax contribution is less than half its complete elimination is a burden that ODOT's budget will not weather well.

Many states since 2008 have been "investing" in removing paved roads and replacing them with gravel and dirt roads. In general these can be cheaper in installation and maintenance with increased costs in skilled labor and engineering.

I have oft found myself pondering, futurist like, how roads will fare over the next 20-30 years.
() the costs and availability of asphalt
() the related energy cost of transporting heavy material out to the site.
() the decreasing tax revenues
() the increased end user cost for heavy (auto vs bicycle) vehicle owners
() USA's shipping industry's awareness, at least since 1998, of the inevitable death of long haul trucking as Intermodal takes over simply from a cost stand point.

We can make some safe conclusions:
() Despite known higher costs for full replacement vs rehab/repair/repaving current roads will be left to rot by DOTs that have had their engineers overridden by winners of popularity contests (elected officials).
() Concrete will slowly replace asphalt as the cost choice for DOTs
..... more quickly with related general public awareness of Peak Oil's reality
..... less slowly if someone invents Mr Fusion*
() Freight shipping will finally be mandated, by fees or legislation, to be shipped to the nearest rail depot and surface transported the least distance possible.
() Chamber's of Commerce nationwide will demand better transportation infrastructure. While being very cost conscious business interests will be inclined to spend the money once rather than multiple times for shoddy results.
() Roads will be increasingly dominated by commercial interests as economic viability becomes the chief concern of all nations. As such high cost paving projects will concentrate on only the highest traffic freight routes.
() As increased fuel costs cause increased urban density long distance over the road trucking will become far less needed. With freight brought to within city centers (that shift to absorb/follow the important location that rail depots will be) large trucks can be replaced with smaller vans and even cargo bicycles depending on the scale of the road network.

The low cost of oil during the 20th century allowed us to invest heavily in an infrastructure system that is too spread out to sustain without that cheap oil. Now that increased densities are being mandated by simple economics we will find that roads in dense urban areas will be maintained to pristine sci-fi standards and that all other extra urban roads will necessarily require private investment for the needs of an ever decreasing minority of users.

(*) Mr Fusion is the butterfly that causes the hurricane; like the Singularity the only sure thing is an increase in entropy and hastened heat death of the universe.

Simple Nature
09-12-2011, 09:43 AM
-If- I was going to make it an issue to present before the Hillsboro Road Committee, I would have to make a very strong case to even be considered. We do not have a strong enough westside contingent even on this board to make up a reasonable consensus much less a common voice to demand changes.

I have spoken with the appropriate departments of both districts and somehow I think my concerns were heard. All the latest slurry seal projects too have toasted countless miles of what were excellent bike lanes in Hilsboro. Just recently, Jacobson Rd., just N. of US26 between Helvetia and Cornellius Pass was slated for a slurry seal. Again my heart sank until the next ride along this route when lo, they only sealed the car lane and left the bike lanes alone. Thanks for small miracles!

The problem with slurry seals is not so much the surface, but the sloppy attention to detail from the workers who simply have no incentive to maintain a nice even line as they work. The bike lanes are often the victim to the "patch" and "corner" blends. It was explained to me that a slurry seal wears itself smoother over time... when I had to remind the offical that this is not true in bike lanes.

Overall, and very sadly, it is too late for much of Hillsboro. My rides eastbound are much more comfortable and in some areas even a pleasure to ride.

I did happen to notice there is a paving company in the SW corner of the intersection at the Bank/Vernonia Trailhead (hwy47/Banks Rd.). One day I just might pop in there and learn more about the quidelines and costs associated with paving.

If I have too, I can go to Schwalbe Big Apple tires and reduce pressure from 80psi to around 50psi. Maybe the frustration energy will balance out the extra rolling resistance.

Simple Nature
09-12-2011, 09:52 AM
Concrete on western Oregon roads would be a big mistake. The dirt under our roads is constantly shifting... this would be really hard on concrete.

Maybe we need to work harder on human powered aircraft :)

09-12-2011, 11:51 AM

Is there ever a time in the future when the city plans to pave over the slurry seal? Or is this simply a permanent fix?

Simple Nature
09-12-2011, 12:00 PM
Slurry seal is a interim to repaving. It extends the useful life of the current deck. It really is a poor surface in many respects.

When I 1st encountered it, I thought is was a way to recycle old roofing material :)

09-12-2011, 12:50 PM
How do you guys on DF's feel about chipseal?

As others have said, chipseal is rough and slow with lots of "suspension losses*" incurred by my body, and that's on a steel DF with 47mm tires (read: comfy ride). I much prefer regular asphalt as long as it's in reasonably good condition.

But the time comes when a rolled asphalt road starts to break up, crumble and pothole. By applying chipseal, the road surface resists that sort of damage for awhile longer. Given budget constraints, I would put up with some miles of rougher surface to avoid potholed and crumbled streets. I'd also like the chipseal to be applied narrowly to the areas that need it rather than broadly down entire miles of otherwise OK asphalt. That solution of just chipsealing the car lane, leaving the well-paved bike lane or shoulder alone, is nice.

*Good blog article from last year about tire pressures and rolling efficiency:

Simple Nature
09-12-2011, 02:06 PM
Thanks Alan... great stuff. Looks like I will be lowering pressure to around 50psi for this route next time.

09-12-2011, 06:46 PM
On the plus side, Brookman Rd in Sherwood got a fresh layer of real asphalt.

Is there some requirement that all county roads need to be resurfaced on a schedule?

I can never understand chip sealing a road that gets minimal use and is not degraded.

A prime example is Dairy Creek Rd, a perfectly good 15 mile out and back ruined.

09-14-2011, 09:10 AM
At least some folks at the county are well aware of the issue cyclists have with chip seal, but they feel it is by far the most cost-effective way to extend the life of the road base. When they chip sealed Scholls Ferry Road from 175th west to River Rd several years back they purposefully avoided the shoulders for this reason. Unfortunately most roads that get this treatment don't have shoulders. I hate chip seal as well, but I don't have a good answer given current budget constraints.

Simple Nature
09-22-2011, 07:50 PM
Today I explored a few other ways to get to Banks from Hillsboro. It adds about a mile, maybe 2 to my previous route. One is through North Plains and does the freeway crossing thing on Mountaindale and then you have the Zion Church route that get you to Roy rd eventually. I've always liked catching the Old Scott's Church rd off Jackson School rd. The shoulder on Zion Church is wide enough for a trike and clean enough but quite a bit of weekday traffic at dinner time/beer-30. Nice thing is that most of these routes are relatively flat.

Both routes from say, Orenco Station or the fairgrounds Max stops are about 18 miles with varying degrees of road comfort.