Town of Grand Coulee

Road Work Evolution

With the 2020 road work season nearing completion, we wanted to share a brief history of the evolution of our road surfaces and maintenance practices.

Thanks to the innovation of our employees, we have developed custom maintenance practices which allow us to balance costs and quality, providing our residents with an improved road network while reducing the impact to property taxes. Did you know that it costs roughly $2.25 million to pave 3 km of roads (circa 2014 pricing) versus our 2020 budget of $40,000 to improve nearly 5 km of roads?

Similar to many of the roads in neighbouring Towns, we started with gravel dirt roads which resulted in excessive dust during the dry months and nearly impassable, bog-like conditions during spring thaw and heavy rains. Back then, staff would have fresh gravel hauled in each spring, roads would be decent for a few months until the gravel got pulverized down and turned into powdery dust. When the roads got wet, some residents had to rely on Town staff and equipment to pull them out of the muddy ruts.

Dust control started in 2014 by experimenting with used cooking oil, which didn’t hold up as well as the Town hoped for and resulted in some less than ideal odors. The Assistant Foreman at the time then took on the challenge of extensive research into the different road emulsion solutions. After a year of testing and experimenting with different products, it was determined that SS1-Dilute road oil held up the longest, penetrated the road surface the best, and suited our road conditions the most.

As the Town was switching over to SS1-Dilute, we also switched from spreading gravel on the roads, to using reclaimed asphalt material. To our surprise and benefit, the combination of reclaimed asphalt (which contains residual amounts of road oil) and the SS1-Dilute resulted in a thin-membrane, mud resistant, hard surface on our roads. No longer were residents getting stuck in muddy streets or being choked out by dust. Suddenly, we had roads that would hold up to our traffic levels and varying weather conditions. Additionally, by repeating the reclaimed asphalt and road oil process year over year, the positive benefits were compounded by building up layers of reclaimed asphalt making a hardened road surface.

Our unique road maintenance program has been praised by other municipalities (who envy the quality of our roads) and complimented by government ministries, including the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.