Caltrans to test fix for rough stretch of Hwy. 1 north of Cambria

Chip seal made road unsuitable for cycling; a year later, a new sand seal is planned

ktanner@thetribunenews.comSeptember 23, 2013 

A short stretch of Highway 1 north of Cambria will soon get a test fix for the rough surface created by chip sealing last fall, Caltrans has announced.

The test “sand seal” patch will be applied in three or four weeks, Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said. Sand sealing is a sprayed application of asphalt emulsion followed by a covering of clean sand or fine aggregate.

That stretch was chip sealed last year with larger-than-usual aggregate of chips and chunks, producing a rocky route on the scenic, federally designated “All-American” highway that’s popular with drivers and cyclists.

The bumpy pavement has angered both drivers and cyclists because of the rough ride and loose rocks thrown up by passing traffic. The surface was hardest on cyclists, who called the ride “tooth jarring and bone jolting.”

If the test sand sealing on Highway 1 provides sufficient smoothing, CalPortland of Santa Maria will proceed with a $1.5 million project to treat the entire 20-mile section of the highway.

The sand-seal fix got the best results in a test of eight treatments on Highway 198 south of King City, according to preliminary results from a study by the UC Davis Pavement Research Center. The study included test rides taken by cyclists in June on the variously treated stretches of resurfaced pavement.

Although the agency and UC Davis continue to review the preliminary report, “enough information is available to begin work on Highway 1,” according to Tim Gubbins, director of Caltrans District 5.

“That’s wonderful news,” Slabtown Rollers Cycling Club member Art Chapman said. “We’re cautiously optimistic. We feel our efforts have paid off.”

“I am appreciative that Caltrans is getting on this,” 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson told The Tribune on Monday. “I thank them for doing that, and hurray for the people who were so passionate about this.”

Members of Cambria’s Slabtown Rollers, the San Luis Obispo Bike Club and other cyclists have pressed their case at monthly meetings of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, which serves as a regional transportation planning agency for federal and state programs.

Chapman said bicycle activists also urged that the roadway be fixed at a town hall meeting of the California Transportation Commission in Paso Robles last week, and got a “very positive reception.” In fact, Chapman recalled, commission Vice Chairman Carl Guardino said he bicycles 10,000 miles a year and participated in the Best Buddies ride early this month.

According to Chapman, Guardino said cycling on the current surface from the Monterey County line to San Simeon “was a miserable ride.”

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