Bicyclists say they’re disappointed by resurfacing work underway on Highway 1.
The $1.5 million project, which extends from the Monterey County line to Cambria, is expected to be complete by mid-November, weather permitting.
So far, resurfacing has been done from the county line to the Piedras Blancas area. Some members of the Slabtown Rollers Cycling Club rode north Saturday to test the recently applied sand-seal treatment intended to smooth out the rough surface left after about 25 miles of highway was chip-sealed late last year.
Sand sealing is a sprayed application of asphalt emulsion followed by a covering of clean sand. Chip sealing is similar, but asphalt-coated small rocks (“chips”) are embedded in the emulsion instead of sand.
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Slabtown member Tom Parsons said the sand-sealed bike lanes were so rough that riders were forced to move into traffic lanes. Parsons emailed Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins, saying the 10 cyclists “collectively gave (contractor) CalPortland a ‘D’ grade for the sand sealing. Please help us return Highway 1 to something we can all be proud of.”
Parsons asked Gubbins to intervene with CalPortland “to (ensure) they are delivering the results you said were possible in our Oct. 10 meeting with (county Supervisor) Bruce Gibson.”
Caltrans spokesman Jim Shivers said in an email Tuesday that “there is a settling-in period for the sand-seal treatment, and the surface roughness will continue to smooth over time.”
Shivers said that during the construction period traffic will be detoured onto the shoulders to help tamp down the surface.
Caltrans partnered with the UC Davis Pavement Research Center to find a fix for the problem.
As part of the research, UC Davis conducted test rides in July on what was described then as a similarly chip-sealed stretch of Highway 198. Those rides “yielded important information about what strategies could provide a smoothing effect on Highway 1,” according to an email Parsons received Tuesday from Aileen Loe, deputy director of Caltrans District 5.
However, the chip-sealed surface on Highway 1 was “considerably rougher” than the chip-sealed section of Highway 198, Loe wrote.
“Due to these different baseline conditions of roughness, we cannot compare the finished results on the two highways,” she wrote. “For Highway 1, we are striving to reach the ‘acceptable threshold level’ of roughness, and not the absolute value of roughness that riders experienced on Highway 198.”
Loe rode on the sand-sealed Highway 1 stretch within the past week. She wrote that she “noticed a positive incremental change in the surface with the sand seal treatment,” putting it “within a satisfactory range for most bicyclists.” When she asked a passing cyclist about the surface, that rider reported “that it was satisfactory,” according to Loe.