VIDEO: Tahoe officials field complaints, talk solutions for failed road project | SierraSun.com

VIDEO: Tahoe officials field complaints, talk solutions for failed road project

TAHOMA, Calif. — Three-hundred and twenty-three tons.

That is how much small black chip rock has been raked up and shoveled out of homeowners' yards in the Tahoma area in the aftermath of the failed chip seal project performed last summer on roughly 21 miles of roads.

On June 23, roughly 50 of those homeowners converged onto Marie Sluchak Community Park in Tahoma as El Dorado County officials held a meeting to update residents on what is being done to remediate the failed project.

The county's course of action the past few months has included sanding the sticky, oil-patched areas of the road as well as extracting chip rock from people's residences with two crews of seven workers.

“This is a very, very slow process. It’s all by hand. I’ve tried to think of different ways … can we run our Vactor trucks along the yards? It all has to be done by hand. We’ve tried everything we can mechanically to try to remove this.”Don SpearDeputy director of El Dorado County’s Transportation Division

Matt Moody, highway superintendent for El Dorado County, said the crews are now skipping undeveloped lots to accelerate the process.

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"We hope that increases the speed and we can gain more ground that way and get more rock out of your yards," Moody said. "These guys are working as hard as they can to get this out."

Some residents, however, questioned why the county doesn't have more than 14 workers on board for the cleanup.

"That's everybody," said Bard Lower, director of the El Dorado County Transportation Division. "Even the admin(istration) staff has been out working at one point in time."

Additionally, to assist with cleanup, the county has reached out to the California Conservation Corps, said Don Spear, deputy director of El Dorado County's Transportation Division.

"We're trying to get one or two CCC crews over here to help out," Spear said. "That will help accelerate the cleanup a little bit.

"This is a very, very slow process," he continued. "It's all by hand. I've tried to think of different ways … can we run our Vactor trucks along the yards? It all has to be done by hand. We've tried everything we can mechanically to try to remove this."

Test strips schedule

Meanwhile, in terms of finding a solution to fixing the oil-patched roads, the county is going to have test strips put down to determine "what will work and what may not work," Spear said.

With that, he added, the county has an agreement with Telfer Pavement Technologies to put down test strips on roughly 250,000 square feet of roadway in Tahoma — on Sixth, Seventh and 10th avenues — tentatively on July 11.

Spear said El Dorado County would let the test strips set for "a month or so" and then run its snow removal operations on the strips to see how they respond.

Spear also said he's in talks with a slurry seal contractor — Sierra Nevada Construction out of Roseville — to do test strips in Rubicon Bay to see how a slurry seal "holds up in steeper areas."

What's more, the county is working with the California Pavement Preservation Center at CSU Chico to determine what caused the failure and find possible solutions.

This led many residents to ask: When will a solution be revealed so the roads can be fully resurfaced?

"We're going to want to see what it looks like over the winter and make sure they don't arbitrarily fail again," Lower said.

In other words, the county will evaluate how the test strips respond to the upcoming winter climate and conditions before deciding which resurfacing project to implement.

"Next year," Lower said, "if we don't have another failure, we will be here as soon as it warms up enough to actually do this type of work and take care of this."

Considering the ongoing investigation, and the fact that the test strips have yet to be done, cost estimates to correct the issue remain unknown, according to previous reports.

How it all began

The Sierra Sun first reported on this story in March, when El Dorado County officials said it would cost more than a half-million dollars to repair several miles of West Shore roadways that were improperly resurfaced in the summer of 2015 with paving material that had since become loose, allowing the sticky substance to be tracked onto private properties.

“It’s just a mess,” Tahoma resident Lorene Hoffman, who has three dogs that track the material into her house, said in March. “It’s all over my place. … It’s real hard to clean up, and it’s just impossible to keep out of the house. It’s very frustrating.”

Since that initial story — which you can read by clicking here — officials backed off on initial cost estimates of up to $700,000, saying that until a legitimate solution is sorted, a final cost estimate will remain unknown.

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Learn more

Visit edcgov.us/DOT/Maintenance/Tahoma_Chip_Seal.aspx for the latest updates on the project, as well as the chip rock cleanup schedule.

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