Port Orchard man stuck in gooey Cle Elum area mess


The in basket: As I sometimes do, my interest today wanders over the mountains where Port Orchard’s Allan Limbocker seeks an explanation of something he encountered near Cle Elum on July 6.

“We were driving from Cashmere to Port Orchard. About 2 p.m. we encountered a very bad stretch of roadway on Highway 970 just past the cutoff to Ellensburg.

“The roadway became very hard to navigate,” he said. “It was like they had just dumped gunk on the road and then just left it. No workers were visible. Drivers were trying to drive on the shoulder to avoid having their vehicles coated/splashed with whatever was on the road.

“Many drivers pulled over and were trying to scrape the gunk off of their vehicles with sticks or their hands.  The substance was falling onto the road as the cars continued to drive.  We finally stopped in Cle Elum and our truck was a mess.

Some of what Allan brought home

“I am wondering what was on the road, and who is responsible for the destruction that it caused on multiple vehicles, including motor homes, boats, and trucks. I did not know what to use to clean my truck and tried to kind of roll it off. Nothing seemed to work. That next morning a pile had fallen off of the truck and was just lying in the driveway.

“This was extremely dangerous and damaging to the vehicles.

He collected some…

The out basket: Allan saw a chip seal operation overtopping a crack sealing operation, a very common form of inexpensive paving used by many jurisdictions. Since the common practice is to let traffic travel over gravel spread atop a layer of oil, letting the tires help compact the gravel into a driving surface, you wouldn’t necessarily see work crews.

There often are complaints about rocks flying during the compaction, but the Cle Elum experience was worse.

In this case, says Mike Westbay of WSDOT’s communications office there, either rising heat on a hot day or something else caused a rubberized material used to seal the worst cracks on the highway to seep up through the oil and gravel.

“Construction vehicles had

driven over it without material sticking to the tires so traffic control

signs were taken down and crews were preparing to leave for the week,” Mike said.

“At about 1 p.m., the rubberized sealant began sticking to vehicle tires.

Though the rubberized sealant initially passed inspection, a half-hour

of heavy traffic, high temperatures and minimal cure time likely

combined to allow uncured sealant material to break the surface and

stick to the tires of passing traffic.

“Once on the tires, this material adhered to other freshly sealed cracks,

exposed more uncured sealant material and expanded the problem. As

vehicles traveled west onto the newly chip-sealed section of the

project, the sticky substance picked up loose rocks, causing the

material to build up on vehicle tires.

Effected drivers should call the WSDOT Risk Management Office at 1-800-737-0615

for instructions on submitting a claim, he said.


Gunk on Limbocker truck

One thought on “Port Orchard man stuck in gooey Cle Elum area mess

  1. I snuck through there right around then my motorcycle. They were putting down “tar snakes” in the eastbound lane, I was relieved there didn’t appear to be any new work in the westbound lanes where I was–and then the gravel started. It was extremely dangerous, the road suddenly became like gravel without any warning signs, i.e. a “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” sign, which I understand is required whenever there is the potential for loose material on the road. (That might be something to check on, what are the rules for posting the “Use Extreme Caution” sign.)

    I’ve seen chipseal projects like that before, and it seems like usually the “Fresh Oil, Loose Gravel” signs stay up long after the constuction ends, but that wasn’t the case here.

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