Inside dope on some paving accessories

The in basket: It’s the peak of paving season and we often see little stick-on flaps marking the center line after a road has been repaved, such as Highway 3.

A couple of weeks ago I was driving on Holly Road in Central Kitsap and saw such flaps without any sign of paving having been done. Worse, I thought, I saw little  pointy things that look like spikes sticking up from the surface.

I used to know what they are (they’re rubber, not metal, and they mark the location of utility access covers to make it easier to find and uncover them under a fresh coat of asphalt or oil) but it had been a long time since I’d seen one and I nearly took evasive action to avoid one.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works whether the flaps are sometimes applied before paving and whether there isn’t a safer way of marking utility covers than something that might look to the uninitiated like a tire-flattener.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, road superintendent for the county, says the flaps are called “stomp-down reflectors” and they “are used to delineate roadway centerline after paving/chip seal until our traffic crew can get to the site to apply new striping.” Holly Road has since gotten a chip seal, he said.

“The stomp down reflectors can be placed either before, or after a chip seal application. A thin film covering over the reflector protects is from oil overspray. After the oil is sprayed, the film is removed, exposing a clean reflector.

“Stomp downs are placed after application of standard asphalt material, as the weight of the material and subsequent compactive effort would bury the reflectors.

“The rubber delineators are truly the safest means, and industry standard for identifying utility locations after resurfacing a roadway,” he said. The accesses can’t be  paved around, and have to be uncovered afterward.

I asked Jacques what made them the safest means, compared to, say, something rounded, and he said, “I am not aware of any ‘rounded bump,’ or other configurations/products. The ‘nipple’ configuration is tall enough to protrude through new surfacing and has rebound strength to stand back vertical after surfacing application.

“I have seen contractors use old road signs or plywood to cover utility lids prior to resurfacing. The problem with this approach, or utilization of narrow or short profile applications, is the ability to easily locate the cover/lid after surfacing is placed. When this approach is used, the contractor or utility company often spends unnecessary time, and causes unnecessary damage to the finished product, attempting to properly locate the utility.”

He referred me to a Web site (http://www.ahp1.com/utility-locator.php) that includes a video showing the locators snapping back to an erect position after being run over by traffic or paving equipment.

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