Residents of Rimbey who are waiting for the remainder of the community’s main street to be paved could be waiting for quite a while.
While paving crews from Alberta Transportation were in the town last week, the work they completed was only two small patching jobs amounting to somewhere between 50 and 100 metres.
“Essentially what we did there is what we considered normal highway maintenance patches with a paver as part of our annual Paving/Patch Program,” said Transportation Operations Manager Russ Watts. “The intent is to hit localized areas with deficiencies. That’s what our program is based on so we typically do smaller patches – 50 or 100 metres, things like that, with the intent of correcting localized deficiencies.”
While the crews have completed the work scheduled for this summer in Rimbey, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be back soon.
“We track the overall conditions of all of our pavements regardless of whether they’re in rural or urban area, so that we’re trying to optimize our investment in them. We try to get about 20 years out of every pavement out there – but of course in some cases it’s 10 or 12 years and in others it’s 30 years,” said construction Engineer Mike Damberger, also of Alberta Transportation.
“We have a tremendous amount of data and every year we prioritize major projects which would be outside these maintenance patches,” he added. “We look at these things annually and someday Rimbey will make it into a more of a major rehabilitation project.”
As for determining exactly where and when maintenance and/or patching work is required, Damberger said Alberta Transportation relies on some high-tech equipment.
“A lot of it is actually electronic. There are some systems now where there’s an automated van that drives around and picks up crack information and roughness and that sort of stuff,” he said. “We use that data, combined with things like traffic volumes and safety numbers, and even a bit of public feedback to rationalize the hard data and make sure that it is right.”
Damberger said there are a number of factors that contribute to the detriment of highways and roads including volumes of traffic along with harsh and even mild winter conditions that involve constant and repeated freezing and thawing. Whatever the cause however, he said it’s what’s underneath the matters the most.
“It depends on the pavement structure largely and what’s underneath that pavement,” he said. “If it’s well-draining soil it’s usually not a problem, but once in a while we get into some clays and have some heaving problems.”
In those cases, Damberger said the reparation work could involve digging out the problem soil to depths of up to three feet and replacing it with more drainage-friendly fill such as gravel.
Other highway and road work that is currently underway or is part of Alberta Transportation’s three-year plan in the Rimbey area includes:
* Nine kilometres of reconstruction/realignment of Highway 792 near Bentley;
* 14 kilometres of resurfacing/overlay on Highway 53 south of Forshee;
* 12 kilometres of resurfacing/overlay on Highway 12 near Forshee; and,
* Seven kilometres of resurfacing/overlay at the intersection of Highways 766 and 20, as well as several other minor repair and maintenance work in the area.