Penetanguishene unveils five-year road maintenance plan

A five-year preventative road maintenance plan might seem like a typical municipal issue, but a Penetanguishene resident requested it be taken one step further.

At the recent regular meeting of council, the 2023-27 years of hot mix asphalt treatments, asphalt rejuvenation, microsurfacing, and crack sealing were among the projects outlined in advance of the 2023 budget process.

The proposed cost was $2.8 million over the five years, with a suggested 2023 budget of $500,000 — an increase from the 2022 budgeted cost of $450,000.

As the entire length of Chatham Street was listed in the asphalt rejuvenation section of the 2023 plan, council asked staff to clarify what the process entailed.

“The asphalt rejuvenation process is reserved for streets that have been newly constructed or are still in nearly new condition,” replied public works director Brian Murray. “It’s one of our lower-cost preventative maintenance treatments.

“We could compare the treatment to changing the oil in your car. It’s not necessarily a high-maintenance treatment, but it’s very key in terms of prolonging the life of the asset.

“What happens is over the lifespan of asphalt it becomes dry and oxidized; it loses its flexibility and that’s where you see the cracking occur in the early stages of a pavement’s life. What the asphalt rejuvenation does is it puts the oils back into the asphalt, it rejuvenates it, it maintains its flexibility and prolongs its life,” Murray concluded.

While that appeased council’s curiosity, one resident brought concerns to the question portion of the meeting, citing potential health issues associated with the materials used in the process. The resident claimed that during a recent asphalt rejuvenation on their own street, noxious fumes caused various aggravations and ailments on the health of their family.

Better communication could have forewarned people of the project, said the resident, pointing out although online notification was given through the town’s website, offline residents were left unaware of the project until its initiation.

Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau thanked the resident for coming forward.

“Certainly, you’ve raised a few issues,” said Dubeau. “Putting the residents on notice is not asking a great deal. If it saves someone from getting sick, it’s certainly something (staff) will take under advisement and, hopefully, we can do a better job.”

CAO Jeff Lees added, “From the town’s perspective, we do identify that there is an opportunity from a communications standpoint to provide written notice to residents, so that’s certainly a takeaway for us and we appreciate the feedback.”

Council approved of the plan in principle, with it to be brought forward to the 2023 budget process.

The proposed five-year preventative road maintenance plan report can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca